Space Art

The BIS has had several renowned space artists during its history and in celebration of these great artists and their works we have added this section of the website in tandem with the new ‘Space Art T-Shirts’ which can be bought from the BIS Shop by clicking here. Below are bio’s for three of our most famous artists along with details on two pieces of their art featured in the new T-Shirts and how they relate to The BIS.

Adrian Mann – FBIS

Adrian Mann portraitAdrian Mann is a technical designer and illustrator. After studying maths, physics, and art, he gained comprehensive experience working for many top-name design agencies in the UK, a wide variety of book and magazine illustration projects, and also for world-class management consultancies for clients such as Rolls-Royce, BAe and of course the BIS where he has been a member for many years. His illustrations of the great BIS Project Daedalus starship are some of the most accurate to have been produced and he is now turning this skill to its successor, Project Icarus and Icarus Interstellar. His illustrations have appeared in many books, magazines, and TV programs. Adrian also provides illustrations for other aerospace projects, especially unbuilt UK aircraft and missiles from the 1950s and 60s. Adrian also works with Reaction Engines Ltd since their early days, and produces all the images and animations for their revolutionary SKYLON spaceplane and SABRE engine. This includes the images and animated video pieces on their website. Adrian and his wife currently live in rural Hungary, where he manages to regularly contribute to BIS articles and publications. He was graphic designer for our popular Odyssey e-newsletter and helped finalise the design of the BIS 80th Anniversary logo.



skylon-orbit-reaction-engines 50pc smallerProject Skylon:

A British Spaceplane

The world’s first purely single stage to Low Earth Orbit spaceplane is under development in the UK and would revolutionise human access to space using a new hybrid air-breathing/pure rocket engine technology.  The European Space Agency recently audited the testing of the crucial SABRE engine pre-cooler and found no significant issues.  With this testing now complete and with UK Government backing, the SKYLON is now tantalisingly close to becoming a reality.

The project has its origins in the 1980s Project HOTOL (BAe) and was originally conceived by BIS former President Bob Parkinson and FBIS Alan Bond in 1981.  When Project HOTOL was cancelled, Alan Bond subsequently formed Reaction Engines Ltd and re-launched its development as the new Skylon.

        • Surface to 80km altitude                       – 15 mins 15 secs
        • SABRE air-breathing transition           – Mach 5.14 / 28.5km Altitude
        • SABRE rocket phase max thrust         – 2 x 1800 kN
        • Payload Capability                                 – 15 tonnes to 300km equatorial orbit
        • ……………………..                                 – 12 tonnes to ISS rendezvous
        • Basic Empty Mass                                 – 37 tonnes
        • Nominal Take-off Mass                         – 345 tonnes


adrian-mann-groundProject Daedalus

Proving it can be done

Project Daedalus was one of the world’s first credible engineering design and feasibility studies of an unmanned interstellar mission, conducted by the BIS in the 1970s.  It became a legendary milestone in the science of deep space exploration and proved it can be done.  Read more on Daedalus here.


  • TARGET:  Barnard’s Star 5.9 light years from Earth
  • OBJECTIVE:  Reach it in 50 years
  • MAX VELOCITY:  12.3% speed of light
  • PROPULSION:  Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Deuterium/Helium-3
  • SCIENCE PAYLOAD:  450 tonnes

The work continues today with the BIS initiated Project Icarus, “son of Daedalus”, and with Tau Zero Foundation (TZF) developed into a truly international design collaboration leading to the formation of the non-profit organisation Icarus Interstellar, that continues active research into the development of starships.


David A. Hardy – FBIS, FIAAA

david-a-hardy-o4David Hardy was born April 1936 in Bournville, UK, where he later started a career in the Design Office of Cadbury’s, where he created packaging and advertising art for the company’s confectionery. However, in 1950 at the age of 14 he had first started painting space art. He later discovered this was the same year as Alexei Leonov, the Russian cosmonaut/artist, and leading Japanese astronomical artist Kazuaki Iwasaki.
Although basically self-taught he studied briefly at the Margaret Street College of Art in Birmingham, and was soon painting for the BIS. where he met the by then prolific, BIS Fellow R. A. Smith (featured below), who was one of his foremost influences, along with Chesley Bonestell from the USA and early French astronomer-artist, Lucien Rudaux. He also illustrated his first book – Suns, Myths and Men, with another great member of the BIS, Patrick Moore – in 1954 at the age of only 18.
His first science fiction art was published in 1970, but he has gone on to illustrate hundreds of covers for books, and for magazines such as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact. His work also appears regularly in magazines such as Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy, for which he also writes articles.
He is known as much for his non-fiction, accurate astronomical paintings in the tradition of Smith and Bonestell, as for his science fiction work, in which he created ‘Bhen’, his famous green alien which lent humour to his vivid astronomical scenes, who has appeared on a dozen issues of F&SF.
He is European Vice President and former President of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, and until recently Vice President of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. He has attended IAAA workshops all over the world and usually exhibits his work in at least two SF conventions each year, including several in the USA and Europe, and has been Artist Guest of Honour at Eastercon, Novacon, Albacon, Stucon, Eurocon and several others. Hardy is one of a handful of artists to have an asteroid named after him: in 2003 it was christened Davidhardy=1998 SB32.
His website is, and he may also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.



Mars 1995:

The Space Think Tank

4_Mars in 1995The British Interplanetary Society has always liked to think big and outside the box when required.  Between 1980 and 1981 BIS President Bob Parkinson suggested the use of existing or planned NASA Space Shuttle derived hardware and European ESA Spacelab modules to stage a manned mission to Mars by 1995!  By using equipment developed for earth-orbital operations and using the anticipated Space Shuttle economics, the whole mission budget was estimated at only 5 times the cost of the Viking robotic missions and ready to go in 10 years.  The work was recently featured in a recent ‘’ article.

  • CREW:                               5 (3 in lander, 2 in orbitor)
  • LANDER ASSEMBLY:    193,482kg
  • ORBITOR 1 MODULE:    211,312kg
  • ORBITOR 2 MODULE:    210,947kg
  • MISSION TIME:                 Earth/Mars Transit – 8 months

Mars Surface Time – 20 days
Mars/Earth Return (Venus swing-by) – 10 months




Sagan’s Moon:

Other Worlds… to go to Boldly

Carl Sagan commissioned this acrylic painting by David Hardy, of a Jupiter-type exoplanet with an earth-like moon, seen from another, airless moon.  Once seen as merely a scientific possibility, hundreds have been found since the first confirmed discovery of an exoplanet in 1995, with current estimates suggesting over 50% of ‘sun-like’ main-sequence stars harbour at least one planetary body.

The British Interplanetary Society in the 1970s, was already targeting potential exoplanet candidates with the interstellar robotic flyby mission Project Daedalus, which featured in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos book and documentary (episode 8).




R.A. Smith – President of the BIS (1956-1957)

R A Smith_500Ralph Smith said that he designed his first spaceship at the age of twelve, in 1917. He was not satisfied with a purely artistic rendering. Many of his pictures were not commenced until he had spent a long while proving by calculation that what he would draw was a reasonable engineering possibility.
Before the War he was principally engaged in architectural decoration. He was responsible for the interior décor of several famous London hotels and metropolitan and provincial super-cinemas – affording good grounding for such pictures as his colour painting of the interior of Lunar City. His picture of the construction of the Space Station in orbit won an award by The Perspectivist magazine.megaroc_600px
The first (pre-War) Headquarters of the BIS after transfer from Liverpool to London, was at Ralph’s house in South Chingford, where he was at the heart of the Technical Committee. It was Ralph Smith who took early proposals for a spaceship and evolved the engineering and laid the foundation for subsequent studies.
During the War, Ralph worked as a design draughtsman in the radio-tube MAP factory for which he had provided the layout. After the War, Ralph had an opportunity to work on rockets and for some years he was a Leading Draughtsman in the Drawing Office at Westcott. However, Ralph was a moral objector to the movement of designs towards missiles for military use, which ultimately led him to resign.
In 2007 he was given the Lucien Rudaux Prize and inducted into the Hall of Fame by the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA) in recognition of the pioneering importance of his artwork.


BIS Lunar Lander

From Imagination to Reality

106_Lunar Lander 1_300dpi 50pc even smaller stillIn 1938, the BIS Technical Committee decided to produce a conceptual design of a vessel that would carry a crew of three safely to the Moon, permit them to land for a stay of fourteen days, and provide for a safe return to the Earth with a final payload of half a ton.  The conceptual design that resulted came to be known as the BIS Lunar Spaceship, and for all its flaws and misconceptions it was the first serious attempt to design such a mission and must be regarded as one of the classical pioneering studies in the history of astronautics.

Perhaps the most important lasting achievement of the Lunar Spaceship study, however, came from its conclusions regarding the landing upon, and lift-off from, the lunar surface. R.A. Smith developed the concept after World War II in an article – “Landing on an Airless World” – published in the August 1947 BIS Journal, accurately depicting the procedure that was to be adopted with the Lunar Module. The only notable difference between the two cases was, perhaps, that Smith’s design was more elegant than the actual LEM.

Read more on this here.

bis-rasspacestnassembly800BIS Space Station

Visionary thinking

In 1948 Harry Ross and Ralph Smith designed a space station, based on a original concept by H.Noordung, which he described as a “Wohnrad” or “Living Wheel”, in his 1928 book “The Problem with Space Travel”.

The design was a single unit with three main features.  The first was a 30 m diameter living quarters permanently manned by 24 astronauts. The second feature was a 60 m diameter mirror in the form of a parabolic annulus, collecting up to 1000 kW of usable solar energy.  This would also contain a network of condenser tubes and radiators for air and temperature conditioning.  The third feature of the space station was a lattice boom, which would be kept stationary (non-rotating), which would provide for a zero-gravity laboratory and an entry and exit point for the space station via an airlock chamber.

The BIS space station seems quite primitive when compared to the technology of the International Space Station today. But for its time, it was a visionary concept and the designers put a lot of thought into the engineering and basic human requirements.

Read more on this here.


Zoe Squires

Adrian Mann portraitZoe Squires is a British contemporary artist working in Hampshire, Great Britain. You can contact Zoe directly to buy and commission work, and use your own photos or images as starting points for a beautiful handmade painting that is going to be really special to you.

Painting with an uninhibited vigour and freedom, Zoe creates luminous images that vibrate with energy and colour. Whether she is depicting a riotous impression of deep space, stars and gas clouds or inviting us to enter a radiant new world of abstraction, her vibrant palette and loose formal structure make her work both instantly recognisable and utterly irresistible.

Since graduating with an Honours degree from Anglia Ruskin University in 2005, Zoe has worked primarily in PR, events and communications for space and communications engineers and technologists, but she has always loved to paint and explore with colour. Her paintings have been exhibited nationally and she has received international acclaim for her unique work.

You can find more of Zoe’s work here.

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