1949 – Space Tug (Illustration) – Klaus Bürgle (German)

Space Tug – 1949

The above image from a 2010 calendar with Bürgle's illustrations. I don't know if the Space Station illustration was previously published and if so, where? The caption suggests it was unpublished at the time.

The Space Tugs are being used to hold and manoeuvre large panels during construction.

Klaus Bürgle – Image by Tommy Laeng.

The graphic artist Klaus Bürgle created in the fifties and sixties of the last century a rich imagery of the future. The exploration of space was certainly his favorite subject, but many of his images also show futuristic cities and transportation.

Bürgle was born in 1926 in Stuttgart, where he attended from 1948 to 1951, the State Academy of Fine Arts. He was educated by professors Rössing and Schneider. After a year working in a graphic studio he became independent in 1953.

His technical interests soon meant that Bürgle is specialized in technical and scientific subjects and created for a variety of popular science books and magazines cover images and interior illustrations. He also worked for scientific television series.

Bürgle's 2010 Calendar cover.


Notes: The concept of a man inside a space capsule using manipulator arms largely came into being as a result of the logistics of getting man to the moon and beyond. The Space Station idea was conceived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the early 20th century and then by Hermann Oberth about two decades later. In 1929 Herman Potočnik's The Problem of Space Travel was published, the first to envision a "rotating wheel" space station to create artificial gravity. But how to build a space station? Wernher von Braun was possibly, and probably the first to fully articulate the approach. When Walt Disney wanted to make his Space films (1954), von Braun was his consultant, and von Braun's ideas on construction were visualised in the form of a "bottle suit" with arms.  Von Braun was thinking about space stations in 1952, possibly earlier. I have not read or heard of Tsiolkovsky, Oberth or Potočnik mentioning space tugs or the like.  The earliest idea I've found to date is the illustrator Klaus Bugle, who, in 1949, produced some illustrations on space station construction and showed space tugs with manipulator arms. Was he illustrating von Braun's ideas, or are these his own?


More Bürgle illustrations of interest.

A depiction of unmanned moon crawlers originally for the Surveyor program. The crawler on the right-hand side is actually the Sperry luna crawler.

Above image from Hobby magazine no.3 1962.


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


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