Category Archives: History

“Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future” film now available at Amazon Prime

The documentary, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future, is now available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime.

What do the Golden Gate Bridge, the Chrysler Building, the film Citizen Kane, and America’s Space Program all have in common? They were touched by the hand of a wry-humored and slightly cantankerous artist named Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986).

His paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge convinced doubting San Franciscans that the bridge could be built. His designs for the Chrysler Building made it an art-deco masterpiece. As a special effects matte painter, he created the legendary Xanadu Castle for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Even greater was Chesley’s impact through his space art. First published in Life Magazine in 1944, his visions of planets and galaxies, made before the advent of powerful telescopes and satellites, sowed all the seeds necessary for one of the most revolutionary chapters of our country: the United States Space Program. His iconic “Saturn As Seen From Titan” became known as “the painting that launched a thousand careers.” His space art graced the covers of countless science fiction magazines of the 1940’s and 50’s. Teaming up with rocket experts Willy Ley and Wernher von Braun, he co-authored a long series of influential books beginning with the best-seller, The Conquest of Space.  His evocative imagery fired the imaginations of a country looking to conquer the next frontier, and so the quest began!

Illustration of a Mars expedition landing site by Chesley Bonestell for Colliers Magazine, April 30, 1954.

Summoned by Hollywood producer George Pal, Chesley lent his talents to classics like Destination Moon and The War Of The Worlds. Television requested Chesley’s help with the series Men Into Space. Even today, you can see his influence on filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and many others.

Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future compellingly reveals a nearly-forgotten artist whose mysterious, almost magical, ability to envision distant worlds inspired generations to reach for the stars. Often compared to a twentieth-century da Vinci, this first-ever film about Bonestell explores the life and works of an artist whose influence and timeless imagery are regarded by many as unparalleled. This documentary was produced by award-winning filmmaker Douglass M. Stewart, Jr. and Co-Produced by Ron Miller and Melvin Schuetz, authors of the Hugo Award-winning book, The Art of Chesley Bonestell.

See previous HS items about the film here and here.

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Chesley Bonestell:
A Brush With The Future

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A Chesley Bonestell
Space Art Chronology

Space In Miniature Tech Report 4 – Energiya Buran

Michael Mackowski of Space in Miniature sent me an announcement of his latest report:

Space In Miniature Tech Report 4 – Energiya Buran
Reference Book for Model Builders

The fourth installment in the Space In Miniature (SIM) short-form “Tech Reports” series of reference booklets for spacecraft modelers is now available. The 30-page digital publication, SIM Tech Report #4 – Energiya Buran,  describes in detail how the author, Michael Mackowski, built six different model kits of the old Soviet Union’s Energiya Buran heavy lift rocket and orbiter.

The Buran program, with its associated Energiya heavy booster, was the Soviet response to the United States Space Shuttle. The Energiya booster was only launched twice, in 1987 and 1988.

A total of six different kits in two scales are included in this book, which is loaded with over 70 photos of work in progress of the following subjects:

  • 1/288 Energiya Buran (STC Start)
  • 1/288 Energiya Polyus (STC Start)
  • 1/288 Energia Buran (Master Modell)
  • 1/144 Energia Buran (Anigrand)
  • 1/144 Buran (Rho Models)
  • 1/144 Buran (Ark)

The SIM Tech Reports cover topics that are too short or too narrow in subject matter for full length printed books. These are also distributed only as electronic (pdf) copies, which can be printed by the customer. It allows the use of color illustrations, and customers get their books via a simple download. The pdf download sells for $7.00 and is available at spaceinminiature.com.

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Check out videos of SIM projects on Michael Mackowski’s YouTube channel. It includes several videos about the Energiya Buran project, e.g.

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Auction of Apollo astronauts’ autographed photos

Paul Fraser Collectibles points me to autographed NASA astronaut photos for sale at Prestige Collectibles Auction  through the end of July.

The items include a set photos autographed by the 12 Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon.

Moonwalkers autographs: complete set of 12 signed photos

 

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Gemini reference book for model builders at “Space in Miniature”

Space in Miniature (SIM) is Michael Mackowski’s website devoted to space modeling.  He  includes a series of books and reports  in which he “covers various topics in the area of building scale models of real spacecraft”. He has just released a new book about modeling Gemini spacecraft:

Building Gemini Reference Book for Model Builders is Published

Lunar Rescue Gemini. Credits SIM

The ninth installment of the Space In Miniature (SIM) series of reference booklets for spacecraft modelers is now available. This 72-page soft-cover booklet describes in detail how the author, Michael Mackowski, built nine different models of the Gemini two-person spacecraft. These include some standard NASA versions as well as some proposed Gemini variants that never made it off the drawing board.

Gemini XI with an Agena. Credits SIM

While there already is a Gemini book in the Space in Miniature series, SIM #2, that volume did not have any detailed how-to articles. The new book is loaded with over 200 photos of work in progress of the following model projects:

  • Gemini IV
  • Gemini VII
  • Gemini XI with Agena
  • Rogallo Wing Capsule
  • Manned Orbiting Lab (MOL)
  • Big G
  • Winged Gemini
  • Lunar Rescue Gemini
  • Gemini to Mars

All are in 1/48th scale except for a 1/24th scale Gemini IV and a 1/72nd scale Mars mission concept and use a variety of kits and scratch-building. This book documents those builds, including how to correct the old Revell kits, and presents a bit of background on the “lost Gemini” projects that were never built. The result is the largest SIM book to date, covering a unique collection of nine historical and theoretical Gemini models built over a span of four years.

Gemini EVA. Credits: SIM

This book is printed in black and white on coated paper, and is available both as a hard copy book as well as a full-color pdf file. This guidebook will be a unique resource for the serious space modeler. A hard copy of SIM #9 – Building Gemini sells for $12 plus shipping, while a pdf download costs $10. A combination package of both the hard copy and digital version is available for only $15 plus shipping. To order, see www.spaceinminiature.com or send an email to mike@spaceinminiature.com. The other titles in the SIM series are still available.

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See also the SIM Galleryspace modeling reference materials, and SIM Paper Models. The latter includes free instructions for the Mars Insight lander:

Insight Lander Paper Model at SIM
Insight Lander paper model at SIM.

J2 space trading card sets

Collectable cards maker J2 Cards has opened a line of J2 NASA Space Missions Cards.

J2 NASA Mission Cards
J2 space trading cards include scenes of human spaceflight activities ranging  from Mercury to the Space Shuttle missions.

There are two series of cards so far and they will be “available at Amazon.com, eBay and selected card shoppes around North America”.

The first series can be ordered now at J2 USA Space Missions Series 1 set of 100 cards (Amazon.com commission link).