How do you get average non-nerds interested in learning factoids about the solar system? If you’re celebrity astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, you host a multimillion-dollar relaunch of Cosmos. But if you don’t have the budget for those special effects, you go small. The Intergalactic Travel Bureau is a troupe of retro “travel agents” who set up info booths where passersby can discuss the particulars of booking a tourist package to the Moon, Pluto, Mars, or any other planet (and learn a thing or two about the solar system in the process.) To publicize its Kickstarter campaign, the ITB created a series of gorgeous retro-themed posters that wouldn’t look out of place on Mad Men.
Artist Steven Thomas drew inspiration from vintage Modern Mechanics magazine covers and mid-20th century pulp sci-fi art. “A simple Google search for vintage travel posters also brought up plenty of references,” he says. “I tried to use different vehicles and modes of transportation as a feature in each poster, as with the vintage posters that usually focus on air travel, train, and so on.”
It’s highly unlikely that anyone will “Ski Pluto,” as one poster suggests. For one thing, real-life scientists won’t get a good look at what Pluto’s surface really looks like–ski-able or not–until NASA’s New Horizons probe flies by the dwarf planet in June 2015. “I went with fantasy altogether,” Thomas says. “Outside of people needing spacesuits of some kind to survive, there isn’t much accuracy at all.”
But that’s not really the point. The Intergalactic Travel Bureau aims to “connect people with science in new ways,” according to its Kickstarter campaign, and part of the process of “booking a trip” means consulting with an ITB agent (all of whom are scientists) on the interesting details of what’s real and what’s imaginary about such a trip. You didn’t really think Neil DeGrasse Tyson could fly around the galaxy in his “ship of imagination” on Cosmos, did you? Same thing goes for the Intergalactic Travel Bureau. A dose of glamorous fantasy can really get people hooked on exploring the much more wondrous real features of the universe.