The First Artwork Created in Space | Space

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The first artwork ever made in space depicts an orbital sunrise, the moment when an astronaut, aboard a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth, witnesses the Sun rise over the horizon of the planet. It was created by Alexei Leonov, a Russian cosmonaut, who was also the first person to ever conduct a spacewalk.

The drawing is small, about the length of one of the colored pencils used by Leonov to create it, made by the Soviet Russian company Tactics. The drawing was made on a loose sheet of white paper and does not fill the page, but captures the gradation of colors Leonov observed.

For a realistic drawing, the work is fairly abstract. The Earth is only indicated by the curvature of the lines and the blue and black colors used to describe the watery surface. The Sun is depicted as a ball of red emerging from a field of blue. A deep swathe of black hints at the vastness of space.

While the drawing itself appears simple, the task of completing it was challenging considering the microgravity environment in which Leonov was working, without the convenience of gravity to hold down his drawing materials.

Alexei Leonov’s drawing depicting an orbital sunrise, 1965. Photo courtesy of the website for the Museum of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.

Leonov drew the little sketch while onboard the Voskhod 2 mission in March 1965. He was joined by just one other cosmonaut, Pavel Belyayev, who remained inside the spacecraft when Leonov conducted his spacewalk.

“It was so quiet I could even hear my heartbeat,” Leonov told The Guardian before his death in 2019….

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