Here’s the future of space conquest, according to NASA … from the ’70s

The visual codes associated with the conquest of space have evolved significantly over the course of half a century.

The imagery that the general public associates with the conquest of space has evolved enormously over the decades. But some of these visual codes – the curves, the refined cylindrical structures… – have survived to this day to impose on themselves major projects in the future, such as the future commercial space stations of Blue Origin or Axiom. Space. We therefore offer you a small step back in time with these images, which illustrate the future of the room such asimagined by NASA fifty years ago.

In the 1970s, NASA experienced one of its most glorious periods. The agency ran on the huge success of the Apollo 11 mission, with the first astronauts landing on the Moon in 1969; a remarkable epic that triggered an unprecedented enthusiasm on the part of the public, now fond of information and folklore attached to the space.

NASA has therefore tried to satisfy this craze by communicating more and more with the general public; it was partly during this period that the tradition of communication and popular science, which is still valid at NASA today, took hold.

Relics from a bygone era

In the 21st century, the majority of this communication travels through digital channels; NASA regularly publishes blog posts, but also and above all videos, live broadcasts and so on. Among these elements, artists’ views and other visual aids occupy a very important place because they are particularly effective in attracting the general public and making their imagination work.

But in the 1970s, the situation was obviously very different. At the time, NASA did not have computers, software, and 3D artists; It is therefore impossible to produce all of these synthetic images, which have a significant impact on public perception.

But that does not mean that NASA did not produce those images; it did so simply by a very different process, viz in hand thanks to skilled illustrators ! These were gathered in a great program, soberly baptized NASA Arts Program (NASAAP). And for many years, it was his troops who had the heavy responsibility of putting images on the agency’s projects and abstract concepts.

NASAAP still exists today, but it is significantly smaller than it was then; in the post-Apollo 11 era, it was a gigantic studio filled with highly talented artists who brought some of NASA’s most ambitious projects to life by illustrating them entirely in hand with style that is instantly recognizable; here are some of their most notable productions.

O’Neill’s cylinder and Bernal’s sphere are main concepts from the 70s

At the time, NASA was particularly interested in O’Neill cylinder. This is a concept of a space colony consisting of a pair of cylinders that rotate in opposite directions to generate artificial gravity and point the structure towards the sun to extract energy from it. The agency has also thoroughly explored the concept of the Bernal sphere, another concept for long-term spatial living.

The NASAAP artists were apparently very inspired by these ideas. They therefore had a market day where they painted screaming and somewhat kitschy works reminiscent of the 1970s, their profession in an immaculate and carefully segmented environment.

A philosophy that is radically opposite to common concepts, which are mostly based on a minimalist and refined design. Will we ever see such colorful works of art come out of NASA’s offices again? This is unlikely as the visual codes for the agency, but also for the entire aerospace industry, have evolved … unless a savvy billionaire decides to relaunch the concept one day.

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