Science fiction's Lester dal Ray telescopes man's penetration to date into outer space and prognosticates about paths to the planets. In our lifetime man will not go further than the planets. Nature does not abhor vacuums -- in fact the Universe is chiefly composed of vacuums. There is no impressive danger to space ships from meteorites as science fiction has contended. One has an uneasy feeling with a science fiction writer doing a factual report that the line between what is positively established about the future and what is speculative and probable may not be clearly delineated. However, there is a wealth of surmise and suggestion in the space trips to come. Will man be able to pilot the ships devised through a vacuum in which there is no convection, no sound, in which the lack of ""up"" and ""down"" and the imbalance may so affect his inner ear that convulsions ensue? The author describes the establishment of the first space station -- at 1075 miles above Earth's surface. Men in the airless cargo hold of the final of three pickaback rockets disgorge materials into space -- where it travels in an orbit beside the rocket. Then the men themselves, powered by little hand rockets, assemble the coded sections of the space platform. The speculations and predictions are absorbing and provocative: they might carry more weight, however, under the byline of a scientific authority.