Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Space Shuttle concept art

NASA Space Shuttle concept art
Concept art has a multitude of uses outside of the film and gaming industries, even out in the “real world” — theme parks for example, use concept art to plan attractions.

Another use is in the development of proposed space vehicles, this has been the case since Chesley Bonestell created images of potential spacecraft for an American space program that did not yet exist, working from sketches on graph paper by pioneering rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. (The concept paintings were initially used to convince Congress to fund the space program by showing them the possibilities.)

An article today by Robert Gonzalez on the excellent science fiction/science themed blog, io9, digs into the archives of the San Diego Air & Space Museum and comes up with a treasure trove of concept art from the proposal days of the U.S. Space Shuttle program in a Flickr set of Space Related Images from the museum.

The concept art, which shows many preliminary and alternate designs, is mixed in with photographs of actual launches, tests and related subjects, but there is enough art to make flipping through the thumbnails well worthwhile. The io9 article also showcases some highlights with links to large versions. These images are in the public domain.

You’ve probably seen images recently of the last Space Shuttle’s last flight atop a carrier plane as it was moved to its resting place in a museum. The image above, top, was a concept for how the spacecraft might be carried atop existing aircraft for transport that was created before the Shuttles existed. Concept to reality.

5 thoughts on “Space Shuttle concept art

  1. David J. Teter

    Great post Charlie,
    Concept art before there was ‘officially’ concept art, which is now offered in art schools since the advent of digital art.
    Before concept art was taught as a major much of it was done by industrial design majors (automotive design).

    I like these for their strong graphic design and simplicity. A couple of them look familiar.

    Brings to mind artists like Syd Mead among others.
    As far as the shuttle goes I always loved the 3 paintings by Atilla Hejja. Although they were not concept art prior to the shuttle they have always stuck in my mind when I think of the shuttle program.

    I had the pleasure of seeing the Shuttles final flight. At only 1500 feet it was quite a sight as my most recent post mentions.

    One correction… the shuttle currently sits at LAX. October 12th and 13th it will be moved 12 miles through the city streets on a special carrier to the California Science Center.
    The move is a special feat in itself.

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