Among the most iconic images of the Cold War space race – the dawn of the ‘space age’ – were the colourful posters and illustrations created by the USSR to promote their successes in putting satellites, animals and human beings in Earth orbit.
The Soviets enjoyed numerous space firsts, including putting animals in space, Sputnik 1 becoming the first artificial satellite to be launched from Earth into space (1957), Yuri Gagarin’s triumph at becoming the first human to reach Earth orbit (1961), and Alexei Leonov’s daring and unprecedented spacewalk (1965).
To boast of their successes and hint at the domination of space that was surely to come in the not-too-distant future, Soviet artists created awe-inspiring posters and magazine covers full of national pride and vivid imagination.
Space artwork from the USSR is the subject of a new book, Soviet Space Graphics, published by Phaidon, that reveals some of the historic images produced during the golden age of Soviet spaceflight.
We’ve selected a few of our favourite pieces, created during a time when interstellar travel seemed just around the corner.
All images courtesy of Phaidon Publishing and used with permission.