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The Final Frontier: An Artist's Rendition

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One of NASA's earliest and perhaps least-known programs enlisted not engineers and astronauts but artists. Since their first commissions in 1963, painters and illustrators have documented America's push beyond earth's atmosphere in hundreds of works, the dominant theme being, of course, magnificent men in shiny machines. In NASA & The Exploration of Space (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $60), Roger D. Launius and Bertram Ulrich have assembled 175 of these pieces from NASA and National Air and Space Museum collections and, for the first time, published them for all to see. And what an eyeful. Although obviously limited in subject, the artworks display no cramping of styles, which range from the collage-cool of Robert Rauschenberg's Sky Garden (far right) to the sterile homeyness of Norman Rockwell's Astronaut on the Moon (upper left) and the epic-patriotism of Robert McCall's Splashdown.

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