NASA’s remarkable accomplishments have been put on display in a new book featuring more than 400 images from the space agency’s archive.
Throughout its 60 year history, NASA has successfully put machines on Mars, captured images of a range of planets and asteroids and even put human beings on the moon.
This incredible journey has been immortalised via NASA photographers dedicated to curating a back-catalogue of its most memorable moments.
Ed White photographed by Gemini 4 Commander Jim McDivitt (pictured). During the first of 66 orbits, they made an unsuccessful attempt to rendezvous with the spent upper stage of their Titan launch vehicle. On McDivitt¿s advice, White waited one more orbit to recover from the effort of the failed rendezvous, and then exited the Gemini for his historic spacewalk on June 3, 1965
Robert McCall’s mid-1970s prediction of NASA’s space shuttle building a modular space station is close to what finally happened, except that the real shuttles only flew one at a time
Apollo 9 CM pilot Dave Scott emerges from the hatch, testing some of the spacesuit systems that will be used for lunar operations. The photo was taken from the hatch of the docked LM by Rusty Schweickart in March 1969
The imagery focuses heavily on the space race era and the Apollo missions, which are widely regarded to be the company’s ‘Golden Era’.
‘Of course, many of the well-known shots were too beautiful to leave out, but we also wanted plenty of lesser-known images, so there was a big effort to delve into obscure archives,’ Piers Bizony, the book’s author and editor, told New Scientist.
‘The fact remains that we cannot relocate 7 billion people,’ says Mr Bizony.
‘Earth has to be our priority in terms of securing a successful future for humanity.’
NASA came into existence on October 1, 1958, as the world’s first civilian space agency.
It was opened as an emergency response to the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik a year earlier.
Within a decade, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, universally known as NASA, took strides to catch up to its rivals in the Soviet Union.
The Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) is a hybrid of parachute and balloon technology. A new generation of flexible heat shield materials could enable a huge shield to be deployed from a small storage canister just before a spacecraft hits the atmosphere of its target planet. In July 2012 a HIAD survived a trip through Earth’s atmosphere at 7,600 mph
Pictured: Lightning strikes the launchpad of Space Shuttle Challenger on August 30, 1983 prior to STS-8, the first pre-dawn launch of the space shuttle program. Launchpads are surrounded by tall lightning towers and other conductive systems. These create a giant Faraday Cage, diverting the electric charge of strike well away from the spacecraft
WHAT WAS THE SPACE RACE?
The space race was a 20th-century competition between two super powers – the capitalist US and the communist Soviet Union.
Each super power waged a bitter campaign to prove the superiority of their space technology in a race that became symbolic of the Cold War era.
The race began in 1957 when a Russian ballistic missile launched the world’s first ever man-made satellite to enter Earth’s orbit, known as ‘Sputnik’.
Sputnik’s launch took US military officials by surprise and in 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) was created to take on the Russians’ space superiority.
But in 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1 – the US were still second in the space race.
Later that year, then-President John F. Kennedy made the bold claim that the US would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and Nasa’s budget was hiked by more than 500 per cent over the next four years.
Nasa met Kennedy’s lofty target in July 1969 when U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins set off on the Apollo 11 space mission.
Armstrong would go on to become the first man on the moon – effectively ending the Cold War.
It started as a collection of modest research teams experimenting with small converted rockets and has now become a global leader in aeronautics.
The agency is one of the most recognisable in the world but is not without its tragedies, issues and setbacks.
The space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986, is the most memorable of these disasters and is one of the most devastating days in the history of space exploration.
Only a minute after its launch a fault with an O-ring caused a fire to start and spread up the rocket itself – killing all on-board.
Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. These astronauts became the first two human beings to ever set foot on the moon
Pictured: Technicians working at the base of Alan Shepard’s Mercury-Redstone 3 launch vehicle are swathed in vapour from vented excess oxidiser gas on May 5, 1961. Subsequent rockets could not be so closely approached when fuelling
NASA scientists are confident that Buzz Aldrin’s boot prints from Apollo 11 are still as sharp and distinct today as when they were first stamped down in 1969, because the Moon has no air or rain to erode them
The NASA Archives by Piers Bizony, Roger Launius, Andrew Chaikin. The 468 page hardback book measures 13 inches by 13 inches and is on sale for $150 (£100)
A lunar landing research vehicle flown by the likes of Neil Armstrong to train for the moon landings. It trained the Apollo astronauts by replicating the lunar module
Mothership ‘Balls Three’ overflies an X-15 in 1961. Three operational X-15s were constructed and flown for 199 test flights between them, as they pushed at the envelope of speed and altitude, and reached the very edges of space
Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, aboard space shuttle Endeavour
Apollo 1 crew relaxing after water egress training. It is designed to allow them to survive a crash landing in water
The faint glow surrounding a shuttle, the result of nitrogen in its thermal cladding reacting with oxygen in the very thin atmosphere in low Earth orbit
Computer scientist and mathematician Annie Easley who was one of the first African-Americans to work as a computer scientist at NASA and worked on software for the Centaur rocket stage
Space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station in 2005. Its first launch was in 1984 and it launched and landed 39 times
NASA astronauts stand next to their capsule in Art Center, Château La Coste, France