Spaceflight Insider

Insider illustrations: The art of James Vaughan

Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser spacecraft departs International Space Station image credit James Vaughan SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The work of James Vaughan is as visually stunning as they are historically important, and the thought process that goes behind them is based on both passion and history. 

Vaughan’s work has appeared on and been used by Science Magazine, Motorola, AlphaMicron, IBM, United Airlines, Ford, Sears, Chicago Tribune, Borg-Warner, RCA, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, and various publications. Recently, he joined the growing staff of SpaceFlight Insider contributors as our site’s photo-illustrator.

Soyuz rocket with Spetsnaz soldiers

Vaughan was commissioned to produce this image of a Russian Soyuz rocket for an upcoming article which will appear on SpaceFlight Insider. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

“This is an unusual and demanding subject matter as it is very technical; it’s also a challenge to convincingly portray something so far outside of the average person’s experience,” Vaughan told SpaceFlight Insider.

“As a student and scholar of history, I see the close connection between Flight and Space Exploration and America’s spirit and sense of self. Americans really do yearn for the heroes and idealism of space exploration.

NASA Orion spacecraft above the International Space Station image credit James Vaughan SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

“As someone who has spent their life in both art and advertising, I understand the strong need for inspired storytelling, romance, and adventure in the narration and news of the aerospace industry,” Vaughan said.

At one time, media outlets focused more on photography due to its accuracy and low cost. Now? With the advent of computer software that allows for stunning illustrations to be produced at a relatively low cost, illustrations are making a comeback.

SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft in orbit above Earth. Image credit James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

“My recent focus has been on the new tools of illustration, which I use to share elemental, heartfelt, and inspiring stories with pictures,” said Vaughan.

Vaughan’s work extends far beyond photo-illustrations; to see how far, simply visit his website here: James Vaughan Photo


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

Impressive illustrations, congratulation!

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