During the Russian Revolution, Soviet leaders began to lean on popular science periodicals to educate the masses, publicize the nation’s accomplishments, and foster enthusiasm for a future in which the Soviet Union hoped to be a worldwide pioneer in science, technology, and just about everything else. There were science magazines for men, women, and even children, and their content ranged from step-by-step instructions for building a radio receiver to science fiction stories by the Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris, and other authors.
The trend continued long after the 1920s. In October 1957, the nation kicked off the Space Age by successfully launching the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1—the first of several exciting events in space exploration that popular science publications would cover at length, along with much speculation about what might come next. In Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions From the USSR, Moscow Design Museum founder Alexandra Sankova compiled more than 250 illustrations from Soviet media that capture the wonder and optimism of a time when it seemed like humans were on the cusp of liaising with Martians and living on the moon. From aircrafts shaped like dragonflies to satellite gadgets shaped like cartoon characters, here are 10 of our favorite images from the book. It’s available from Phaidon, and you can order it here.
A. Pobedinsky's illustration for the article "Brain Emits Stars on the Oscilloscope Screen" contemplates the human brain's possible emission of electromagnetic waves and potential for telepathy.
This is V. Viktorov's sketch of Belka ("Whitey") and Strelka ("Little Arrow"), the first living creatures—along with 42 mice, two rats, a rabbit, and some flies—to survive space, on Sputnik 5 in August 1960.
You can order your copy of Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions From the USSR—on sale now—for $40 from Phaidon.