The Art of NASA Review

The Art of Nasa: The Illustrations That Sold the Missions

By Piers Bizony

I received a free copy of The Art of NASA from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Formed in 1958, NASA has long maintained a department of visual artists to depict the concepts and technologies created in humankind’s quest to explore the final frontier. Culled from a carefully chosen reserve of approximately 3,000 files deep in the NASA archives, the 200 artworks presented in this large-format edition provide a glimpse of NASA history like no other.

From space suits to capsules, from landing modules to the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and more recent concepts for space planes, The Art of NASA presents 60 years of American space exploration in an unprecedented fashion. All the landmark early missions are represented in detail—Gemini, Mercury, Apollo—as are post-Space Race accomplishments, like the mission to Mars and other deep-space explorations.

The insightful text relates the wonderful stories associated with the art. For instance, the incredibly rare early Apollo illustrations show how Apollo might have looked if the landing module had never been developed. Black-and-white Gemini drawings illustrate how the massive NASA art department did its stuff with ink pen and rubdown Letraset textures. Cross-sections of the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project docking adapter reveal Russian sensitivity about US “male” probes “penetrating” their spacecraft, thus the androgynous “adapter” now used universally in space. International Space Station cutaways show how huge the original plan was, but also what was retained.

Every picture in The Art of NASA tells a special story. This collection of the rarest of the rare is not only a unique view of NASA history—it’s a fascinating look at the art of illustration, the development of now-familiar technologies, and a glimpse of what the space program might have looked like.

Summary from Goodreads.

Do you love space? Or even just have a mild interest in it? Well, The Art of NASA is not just for the avid space fanatic.

The Art of NASA is separated into 5 different chapters. This New Ocean, One Giant Leap, Islands In The Sky, Brave New Worlds, and The Expanse. Each one chronologically explores space travel, with historic artwork from each era just fascinating to look at. From diagram of how the Mercury space capsule work to future idea of how we one day may build spaceship to ship off humans to distant planets; a plethora of art has been curated.

Each artwork has a brief description of the artist and what it is about, so that you are never completely lost as to what you are looking at. These artworks have only one way to describe them in my opinion. They are stunning. I am amazed that I have never seen some of the early artwork around the Apollo era as they have set up modern space exploration. It is extremely unfortunate that back in the initial days of space exploration, keeping records of these artworks was not a priority so many will have been lost if not for a handful of enthusiast who have collected some over the years.

A worth-while coffee table book that most home would benefit from having.


Check it out on Goodreads here.

Purchase it on Amazon here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.