The picturesque blur of a rocket launch. The surreal isolation of an orbiting satellite. The dreamy crest of a turning moon. These are but a few of the gorgeous images hidden in the depths of NASA's photographic archives. Thanks to a new exhibit at London's Breese Little gallery, however, we can finally feast upon the visual beauty previously beyond our reach.
The show -- "For all Mankind" -- boasts over 100 vintage photographs from NASA's past, spanning the sixties to the eighties. Taken by men, women and machines over a 20-year period, the images illuminate the retro splendor of Gemini missions, the Mars Viking and the Jupiter Voyager, among other feats of space travel.
Harrison Schmitt, Eugene Cernan and the antenna on the Rover, crescent Earth above, Apollo 17, December 1972, Vintage
"The ennobling rhetoric employed by JFK to launch the American space program has been superseded by a new reality," Breese Little notes in the exhibition description, referring to the dawn of the space tourism industry and the commercialization of galactic dreams. "Despite this, the exploration of space is undoubtedly one of the single most important endeavors in humanity’s quest for self-knowledge."
Contemporary video diaries from void-bound astronauts are certainly impressive, but there's something about a washed-out portrait of a distant planet that stirs the inner art-meets-science admirer in us all. Behold, 12 vintage photos that will take you back in NASA history:
Liftoff of the last lunar mission, Apollo 17, December 1972, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
Saturn, Voyager 1, 1980, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
Russell Schweickart, David Scott climbs through the open hatch of the Command Module, Apollo 9, March 1969, Vintage
Space Shuttle STS-1 at Kennedy Space Center, Shuttle, March 1981, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
William Anders, Earthrise, the first ever witnessed by human eyes, Apollo 8, December 1968, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4
Splashdown of the Apollo 14 command module, Apollo 14, February 1971, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
Apollo 11 lift-off seen from the top of the launch gantry, Apollo 11, July 1969, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
Crescent Earth from 10,000 miles, Apollo 4, November 1967, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm
James Irwin, David Scott and the Lunar Rover, Apollo 15, August 1971, Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
James McDivitt, Ed White walking in space over Hawaii, Gemini 4, June 1965, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.3 x 25.4 cm
Jupiter and its satellite Io, Voyager 2, June 1979, Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin’s gold-plated visor reflects Armstrong and the Lunar Module, Apollo 11, July 1969, Vintage
"For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964-1983" will be on view from January 22 until February 22, 2014.