Categories: AstrophotosLaunches

Original Drawing of MAVEN Launch is a Throwback to the Early Days of Space Exploration

We’ve seen some great images from the launch of the MAVEN spacecraft earlier this week, but this original drawing of the moment of liftoff of the Atlas V carrying MAVEN is remarkable. This pencil illustration is reminiscent of the early days of spaceflight – or perhaps even the pre-spaceflight days, before we had actual images of launches, only our dreams of spaceflight.

“Everyone takes great photos of the launches and I thought a drawing would be something different,” said artist and photographer Wendy Clark from the UK. “True inspiration comes from the things you love most and I think this is why I especially enjoy drawing space related things.”

Like most of us, Wendy watched the launch online and she started her sketches after NASA started receiving telemetry from MAVEN, and said she worked on the drawing for about 24 hours total since Monday. This final version was done with graphite on A3 paper.

“Don’t let anyone tell you drawing a rocket is easy,” she told Universe Today. “This is only the 2nd drawing I have fully completed of a rocket launch. The special missions always interest me and I’m a fan of Atlas V rocket shapes, although they are not easy subjects to draw!”

Wendy said she’s an avid launch fan, although she’s never witnessed a mission launch in person. “One day would be nice to stand and watch this in person,” she said.

The other launch drawing she completed was of the final launch of the space shuttle program, STS-135, and she said she felt like she got to know the shuttle Atlantis like an old friend.

“When you spend 72 hours drawing a momentous event like this you get kind of attached to the subject in a way you can’t immediately understand,” she said. “I got to know every curve by putting what I saw on paper with graphite.”

An original graphite drawing of the final launch of the space shuttle program, STS-135. Credit and copyright: Wendy Clark.

See more of Wendy’s drawings and photographs on her Flickr page.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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