I heard so much about Space Center Houston before I finally visited over several days in the spring. Years ago I began an ongoing art project called Stellar Science Series with much of the initial drawing concepts and ideas sketched on location. Inspired by my love for science, STEM-related subjects and space exploration, the project has taken me on great adventures to places such as Mars Yard for Curiosity Rover, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Deep Space Network, Kennedy Space Center and create space art for Jacob Technologies, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
|Shuttle astronaut Ejection Escape Suit and communications helmet|
Space Center is a unique place to learn about astronaut flight training, exploration, scientific research and mission operations for both U.S. and international operations. For an illustrator, it's a brilliant place to work on drawing studies. The immensity of spacecraft, magnitude of scientific achievement, and technological complexity makes for extreme sensory overload. Every sightline becomes a visual puzzle, asking for a graphic solution through reportage drawing.
The Saturn V rocket, for example, stands about 40 storeys high and the one I've drawn above is one of only three still existing. It's unbelievable to see an Apollo mission spacecraft in person. If astronauts ever needed a ride back to the moon, Saturn V would be the spacecraft to take them. It housed the Lunar Module and small Command Module, which is the only remaining part of the entire spacecraft to safely return back to Earth after a trip to the moon.
Skylab was America's first space station orbiting Earth and it paved the way for International Space Station operations. It was launched and operated from 1973 to 1979. The more I learn about Skylab missions, the more I appreciate how important the project was. Numerous assignments were performed by astronauts including Earth observation, gravity research, solar and stellar astronomy, biomedical and technological research were just some of the many experiments carried out on Skylab. It was a forerunner for future space station missions by allowing the study of effects of living and working for extended cycles in space.
This is the actual Lunar Rover Apollo mission astronauts used to train in preparing for lunar landing missions. It was electric powered, had a top speed of 10mph, a range of 55 miles and was steered entirely with an individual controller.
The first drawing I made on-site (outside the entrance plaza) was of the immense Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with Shuttle Independence. The NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft is a modified Boeing 747, built to carry space shuttle orbiters back to launch sites from their landing sites. Orbiters were placed on top of the SCA using gigantic hoists called Mate-Demate Devices (top image).
I began to capture it from various locations including the unique perspective of the SCA, looking down from a viewing platform adjoining Shuttle Independence. NASA's Space Shuttle Missions turned the mystical idea of what is beyond the familiar realm into innovation, technological advancement, and scientific discovery. Shuttle orbiters flew more than 130 missions, totaling more than half a billion travel miles, and carrying more than 300 explorers into space.
The Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) was the first manned observatory operating above Earth's atmosphere and used as a solar observatory. An interesting fact about ATM is that it was manually operated to yield data by way of photographic film. The containing film magazines would be replaced by the crew during spacewalks known as Extravehicular Activity (EVA).
Space Shuttle Main Engine technology bridges past missions to the coming age of spaceflight. This RS-25 engine, which has been so reliable for boosting Space Shuttle launches for 30 years, will be modified to boost the Space Launch System during future exploratory missions to Mars. Currently, ORION spacecraft and the SLS rocket are being developed to embark on the most significant space expedition since Mars rover landings and Apollo Lunar Missions. The SLS program is a new launch system that will have a thrust capability of rocketing up to 130 metric tons into space, allowing future astronauts to travel further.
The reason we embark on such missions is that exploration seems inherent in us. We are the only species on this planet, perhaps our universe, that venture to the intangible geography of space while carrying along our dreams in finding what drives our curiosity. An interesting fact about space exploration is the deeper into space humans travel, the deeper we peer into our universe's infinite past. In order to learn something of our selves, we look to where we came from, voyaging into an immeasurable distance, bound to our future.
Jedidiah Dore is an illustrator, reportage artist and drawing instructor based in Austin, Texas and NYC. See more of his urban sketching and reportage drawing on Instagram at @jedidore and his website at www.inkandsword.com.