Retro NASA concept art reveals the unrealized dreams for the space shuttle program

Witness the beautiful, retro future that was denied us all. As the few remaining space shuttles gather dust in mothballs at NASA facilities and museums, take a peek at what could’ve been if the program had been given time and attention to flourish.

Though the space shuttles did a fairly good job of getting us to and from space the past decade or so, the ships were never nearly as cost-efficient and functional as NASA engineers had first dreamed. Need proof? The San Diego Air and Space Museum has assembled some stunning, vintage NASA concept art showing ideas for different ships (some of which are insanely cool) that could’ve been developed under the shuttle program in an alternate universe where we actually fund space travel.

We’ve pulled together a few of the highlights below, but head over to the museum’s full Flickr gallery for dozens of gorgeous peeks at the future we always wanted.

(Via San Diego Air and Space Museum)

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