Whether they're selling tickets to orbit or making sure the science funding keeps flowing, rocket companies and space agencies alike have a vested interest in getting the public jazzed about the cosmic beyond. So it's no surprise that we're now entering a golden age of space tourism propaganda — one that's bringing back the beloved, classic design elements of long-past atomic age propaganda. Last year, SpaceX released a series of gorgeous, retro travel posters to help convince the people of Earth that living on the frigid wasteland of a planet called Mars could be fun. NASA — whose PR machine generates more hype than all other government entities combined — recently used a similar tactic to drum up excitement about extrasolar planets.
Now, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has commissioned design firm Invisible Creature to produce three lovely travel new posters for our cosmic backyard, highlighting places the space agency is keen to send additional missions. If these don't make you want to abandon everyone you know and love in order to blast off into the void, I don't know what will.
Each of the cleverly designed posters includes homages to the space agency's past and future: The "Grand Tour", for instance, is a callback to the Voyager missions of the 1970s and '80s, when space probes were catapulting around the outer solar system and snagging gravity assists from gas giants.
The Mars poster depicts a future in which humans have settled the Red Planet long ago, and are running historic tours of the architecture and robotic pioneers — we see you, Curiosity! — of the early days. Agriculture, of course, features prominently, highlighting NASA's aspiration to continue growing plants in space and, eventually, to sustain human colonies.
My favourite of the three is absolutely the Enceladus poster, but I'm biased toward the little ice moon nestled in Saturn's rings, whose south pole geysers are shooting tremendous plumes of ocean spray into space for any passing probes — or intergalactic tour buses — to marvel at. Cassini just completed its final close Enceladus flyby, but NASA is hoping to send another mission back to the moon eventually. After all, it's one of the most promising spots to discover alien life in our solar system.
If the style of these travel posters looks familiar to you, it's because it is. The US Department of the Interior previously released vintage posters from the 1930s to spark public excitement about the US National Parks program. We're essentially rehashing a tried-and-true tourism propaganda campaign — only this time, in space.
I'm definitely OK with this.
Images via Invisible Creature / NASA. You can purchase prints of them here.