13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based on Actual Missions

By Attila Nagy on at

Yesterday we looked at an artist who immortalised the US space program. Today, we meet an artist who does the same—except that this American illustrator, Paul Fjeld, bases his work on the actual transcripts of missions. It's science and art in equal measure, and it's beautiful.

Fjeld is both an illustrator, writer, space expert, and official NASA and U.S. Air Force artist—he's one of the best known aerospace artists of our age. He was born in Baerum, in Norway, in 1955, grew up in Montreal; and lives in Salem, MA, today. He's written and illustrated articles on the Apollo moon missions for The Montreal Star, and created space paintings on Apollo, Skylab, ASTP, and Space Shuttle missions used by NASA, CBS News, National Geographic Magazine, Aviation Week & Space Technology, and other publications.

In 1975, Fjeld recreated one of the most troubled space scene ever: the Skylab 2 extravehicular activity (EVA) in Earth orbit when astronauts Joseph P. Kerwin and Charles Conrad Jr. had to cut the aluminum strapping which prevented the Skylab Orbital Workshop solar array system wing from deploying (June 7, 1973). This artistic effort took weeks to research: Fjeld needed some hundred or so photographs and about 300 pages of transcripts from the flight to get all the details for the painting. Also, he used several pages of teleprinter messages containing the actual instructions on the EVA.

But his best-appreciated artworks are his legendary ASTP concept paintings, where he depicted the main stages of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission, the Apollo and Soyuz transposition and docking maneuvers and joint spaceflight months prior to the actual mission. Enjoy our selection of Paul Fjeld's amazing artworks below!

Skylab 2 extravehicular activities in Earth orbit depicting astronauts Joseph P. Kerwin and Charles Conrad Jr. (1973).

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA


GE Astro's Defence Meteorological Space Program satellite flies over Alaska (c1973).

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons


Series of the joint U.S.-USSR Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission (1975).

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA


Rescue in space

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: Popular Mechanics, Oct 1976


And a painting from here on Earth. Engine Maintenance, Langley AFB with Pratt&Witney F-100's (1982)

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: National Archives OPA


Spar Aerospace design for the Space Station Freedom Mobile Servicing System. "Speedy" the robot is helping an astronaut riding the Arm in "cherry-picker" style. (1989)

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: pfinspace.com


Lunar Module Eagle moments after the left-hand probe contacts the moon's surface.

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: Horizons, May/June 2013


Insignias for the the STS-90 and the STS-100 Space Shuttle missions, and the 35th expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA

13 Amazing Paintings of Space Based On Actual Missions

Source: NASA


Top image: Challenger - December 12, 1972. Gene Cernan, at the Rover, and Jack Schmitt, circling Lunar Module 12 "Challenger," prepare their exploration of the valley at Taurus Littrow pfinspace.com