A long time ago we posted a brief piece about our love of rockets and mentioned the peerless space artist Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986). Two of the books he illustrated for author Willy Ley, The Conquest of Space (1949) and Beyond the Solar System (1964), really excited the young Triple P's imagination back in the late sixties. One picture in particular, from Beyond the Solar System, we found particularly evocative. It was this one of (we seem to remember) an ion drive ship in deep space, it's fins glowing red as it radiated excess heat. It's a simple image, compared with some of his paintings of pod and booster encrusted rockets orbiting a bright earth (like the illustration of the same rocket on the cover) but, at the time, those tiny cabin lights spoke of men (no women would have been contemplated as spacefarers in 1964; something Star Trek would change within two years) journeying far from earth. Where are they going? How long will it take? Fuel for Agent Triple P's imagination forty five years ago. The picture conveys the cold darkness of space in a way that modern science fiction films and TV with their brightly lit spacecraft just don't.
We have been looking for a good copy of this image for some time and came across it the other day while looking for something else. Literally, back to the future for Triple P!
Cover painting for The Conquest of Space
Bonestell was originally an architect and worked on both the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate bridge but his interest in astronomy saw him taking an artistic path which was always firmly rooted in science and he really pioneered astronomical art. He was still working on a painting in his home in Carmel, California when he died in 1986 at the age of 98.