22 Images From NASA That Will Make You Want to Be An Astronaut


A collection of more than 270 unretouched vintage photos from the heyday of NASA’s space program have gone on display in a London gallery. Take a look at this sampling and relive the excitement.

With the manned space program on hiatus as NASA and private contractors get ready for the next phase of space flight, the Breese Little Gallery in London has opened an exhibit called “For All Mankind” that shows off a huge collection of old photos from 1964 to 1983. The showing will run through February 22.

From the description of the exhibit:

The vintage photographs on display, many of which retain original NASA catalogue stamps on the reverse, were taken by the men, women and machines of NASA over a period of 20 years. They include photographs from the Gemini 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 missions; Apollo 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17; the Mars Viking missions and the Jupiter Voyager missions. They also include historic images such as the world’s first picture of the Earth taken from the vicinity of the Moon (December, 1966), and iconic images such as the ‘Earthrise’ view taken from Apollo 8 and the ‘Blue Marble’, the first ever full Earth view (Apollo 17, December 1972).

Click through this small sampling of the images that should make you dream of being an astronaut.


Mission: Gemini 4
Launched: June 1965
Crew: James McDivitt and Ed White
Description: Above, Astronaut Ed White conducts the first American space walk outside the space capsule. Below, a view of the Florida Keys shot from the capsule.
Trivia: This was the first mission to conduct experiments in space. It was also marked the first attempt to rendezvous with another space vehicle, as McDivitt unsuccessfully tried to get close to the Titan II upper stage that had lifted them into orbit.


Missions: Gemini 6 and Gemini 7
Gemini 6 Mission Length: December 15-16, 1965
Gemini 6 Crew: Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford
Gemini 6 Mission Length: December 4-18, 1965
Gemini 7 Crew: Frank Borman and James Lovell
Description: This shot was taken by Stafford aboard Gemini 6 as it approached rendezvous with Gemini 7.
Trivia: Gemini 6 was actually launched after Gemini 7, and achieved splashdown before its counterpart. The two performed the first U.S. space rendezvous, coming within one foot of each other. That beat the record held by the Soviets, who had brought two Vostok spacecraft within a few kilometers of each other.


Mission: Gemini 8
Mission Length: December 15-16, 1965
Crew: Neil Armstrong and David Scott
Description: Gemini 8 approaches the Agena Target Vehicle for docking.
Trivia: This mission marked the first docking of two vehicles in space. Unfortunately, this was also the first mission to have a malfunction in space, as Gemini went into a spin while docked with Agena. After undocking, the spin continued to worsen, causing the astronauts blurred vision and the threat of unconsciousness. The crew had to use much of its re-entry fuel to stop the spin, necessitating an immediate abort of the rest of the mission. The crew made it safely back to Earth.


Mission: Gemini 10
Mission Length: July 18-21, 1966
Crew: John Young and Michael Collins
Description: This shot was actually taken more than a week before the mission began, on July 10. Collins is on the left and Young on the right.
Trivia: Collins had two space walks on this mission, and the space capsule again docked with an Agena rocket.


Mission: Apollo 4
Mission Length: November 9, 1967 (9 hours)
Crew: Unmanned
Description: This shot of the Earth was taken by onboard cameras at the highest point of the flight, about 11,000 miles above the planet.
Trivia: This was the first Apollo mission, designed to test out the new Saturn V rocket that would lift the command vehicle into space. This mission was unmanned, and actually delayed six months, after a pad fire during a practice session killed the three astronauts that were supposed to start the program. This was also the first launch from the Kennedy Space Center (the Gemini mission were launched from Cape Canaveral). Apollo was the start of man’s move toward the moon.


Mission: Apollo 8
Mission Length: December 21-28, 1968
Crew: Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders
Description: This is the famous ‘Earthrise’ shot, taken by Anders. It is the first shot of the Earth rising over the moon’s horizon.
Trivia: This was the first mission to orbit the moon, with the Command Module making 10 trips around. The crew was also the first to make a broadcast from space, reading the first 10 verses from the book of Genesis on Christmas Eve.


Mission: Apollo 9
Mission Length: March 3-13, 1969
Crew: James McDivitt, David Scott, and Russell Schweickart
Description: Here, Russell Schweikart gets the shot of David Scott as he leaves the Command Module for a space walk
Trivia: This was the first mission where the command Module hooked up with the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) to test the docking and extraction of the vehicle. It also showed that the LEM was spaceworthy.


Mission: Apollo 11
Mission Length: July 16-24, 1969
Crew: Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins
Description: Above, liftoff of the historic moon landing mission, taken from the top of the launch gantry at pad 39A. Below, Armstrong can be seen in the visor of Buzz Aldrin as the two carry out their duties on the moon.
Trivia: This was the first moon landing, where Armstrong uttered “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he set foot on the moon on July 20. When the LEM, nicknamed Eagle, touched down on the surface of the moon at Tranquility Base, Armstrong said “The Eagle has landed.”


Mission: Apollo 12
Mission Length: November 14-24, 1969
Crew: Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon, and Alan Bean
Description: An eclipse of the sun by the Earth
Trivia: This mission landed near the site of the Surveyor 3 unmanned moon probe, returning some of those parts to earth. There were also two moonwalks.


Mission: Apollo 13
Mission Length: April 11-17, 1970
Crew: James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise
Description: The moon as seen from lunar orbit. This was one of the few shots in the exhibit from the aborted mission.
Trivia: This mission never reached the moon, as it had to be aborted when one of the oxygen tanks aboard the Command Module exploded. Miraculously, the crew safely returned to Earth. This was the only mission during 1970.


Mission: Apollo 14
Mission Length: January 31-February 9, 1971
Crew: Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell
Description: Above, Shepard plants the American flag on the moon. Below, the command module descends toward a successful splashdown.
Trivia: This mission landed in the Fra Mauro crater on the moon, where the Apollo 13 had planned to touch down. Shepard also was the first astronaut to hit a golf ball on the moon, launching two with a makeshift club he had brought with him.


Mission: Apollo 17
Mission Length: December 7-19, 1972
Crew: Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt
Description: Above, the night liftoff from pad 39A. Below, Cernan near the lunar rover, complete with antenna.
Trivia: This was the last lunar mission. It broke several space records, including longest manned lunar landing flight, the longest total time of extravehicular activities on the lunar surface, the largest amount of lunar samples returned, and the longest time in lunar orbit.


Mission: Skylab 3
Mission Length: July 28-September 25, 1973
Crew: Alan Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott
Description: Garriott works outside the spacecraft during a space walk in August
Trivia: Despite the designation, this was the second mission to Skylab, the first American Space Station. The mission patch called it Skylab II. And if the name Garriott sounds familiar, Owen Garriott is the father of game designer Richard Garriott.


Mission: Voyager 1
Launch date: September 5, 1977
Crew: Unmanned
Description: This was taken as Voyager did it’s flyby of Saturn on November 12, 1980
Trivia: On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 left our solar system, making it the first human-made object to do so. The probe is expected to continue its mission until 2025, when it is expected to finally run out of power almost 50 years after launch.


Mission: Voyager 2
Launch date: August 20, 1977
Crew: Unmanned
Description: A shot of Jupiter, with the moon Io in front, shot on June 25, 1979.
Trivia: Despite the number designation, this probe was actually launched before Voyager 1, but the latter moved faster and eventually passed it. The probe is the only one to have done flybys of Uranus and Neptune.


Mission: STS-1
Mission Length: April 12-14, 1981
Crew: John Young and Robert Crippen
Description: A look at Columbia as she sits on the launchpad prior to the launch of the first shuttle mission.
Trivia: The beginning of the shuttle era, this was the first manned launch since Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. The large external tank was actually painted white during the first two shuttle missions to supposedly protect it from ultraviolet rays while it was on the pad. That proved to be unnecessary, and by the third mission, the tank was kept its original rust color to cut back on the weight at liftoff. Yeah, that was a lot of paint.

There are plenty more photos available. If you love space, or are just curious about the history from 1964-1983, be sure to check it out. If you are lucky enough to live in London, visit the exhibit in person.

Source: Breese Little gallery

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