Joseph Lawrence Greene of Grosset & Dunlap developed Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, inspired by the Robert A. Heinlein novel Space Cadet (1948) but based on his own prior work. Greene had submitted a radio script for "Tom Ranger" and the "Space Cadets" on January 16, 1946, but it remained unperformed when Heinlein's novel was published. Greene then reworked his radio script into a script for a daily newspaper adventure strip, which was never produced.
Tom Corbett first appeared on television. The stories initially closely followed the scripts written for the unpublished newspaper comic strip Tom Ranger, Space Cadet, by Joseph Greene from 1949.
The stories followed the adventures of Corbett, Astro, originally Roger Manning and later T.J. Thistle, cadets at the Space Academy as they train to become members of the Solar Guard. The action takes place at the Academy in classrooms and bunkrooms, aboard their training ship the rocket cruiser Polaris, and on alien worlds, both within our solar system and in orbit around nearby stars.
The cast for the radio program was the same as for the television series. The show ran from January 1, 1952 - June 26, 1952, initially in 15-minute segments three times a week and then as a half-hour show twice a week. A radio version produced in Australia used local actors.