Something of a special feature here, original photography scanned from the breathtakingly beautiful ‘To The Moon’ (Time-Life 1969) an audio and visual chronology that documents NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and (of course) Apollo projects. ‘To The Moon’ includes 6 doubled sided 12″ Vinyl’s full of famous radio transmissions and interviews, plus an accompanying 190 page slip case book, and that’s the focus of this post. Many thanks to Craig for the temporary loan!
The first thing that strikes when flicking through ‘To The Moon’ is the muted palette and hues of the colour photography. Bathed in a loving technicolor warmth, the imagery empowers the feeling of not just peering into the past, but through into another world, like suddenly everything could spring to life. What’s also unusual is the obscure nature or relative rarity of content, as you might expect in running and researching this blog I’ve mined many resources from this period, but scanning here presented gem after perfectly preserved gem.
A quick disclaimer on the scans, I’ve tried my best to match the tones of the book, but of course some scans work better than others.
Top Image: I often tend to start a post with the image I deem strongest, most outlandish or simply just the personal fave. The above is no exception, akin to a Renaissance masterpiece, with perfect pose and expression. What’s it all about? it’s part of development testing for the Mercury program, a researcher carefully measures how far a test subject, restricted by a pressure suit, can push ’spokes’ basically to gauge how away far the capsule controls should be.
Above: Gemini 6 splashes down 26 hours after launch. Once again a stripped back, gorgeous array of vivid colours, the fact that it’s slightly out of focus just adds to the painterly feel.
Above: Three early twin rotor helicopters (a type I’m unfamiliar with) sit against a cold and barren volcanic backdrop. No prizes for guessing this hostile landscape is Iceland, here the astronauts explore the lunar like terrain to help familiarise with the adventures that lay ahead.
Above: This abstract image is actually a long exposure of Astronaut Gus Grissom sitting within the fearsome ‘MASTIF’ (an acronym for Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility). The g-force throttling, spinning MASTIF is designed to help teach an astronaut how bring a tumbling capsule under control.
Above: Engineers test a fragile-looking Mariner 4, this early interplanetary probe will embark on an 8 month fly-by mission to Mars.
Above: The Seven Astronauts of the Mercury Program try on their distinctive silver space suits. Composed of a rubber inner layer, and an outer aluminised shell these outfits are tailored to fit each astronaut precisely, to the point that even a few extra pounds would feel akin to being squeezed in a vise.
Above: An Atlas booster surges skyward from the launch pad carrying astronaut Wally Schirra. He rides atop inside Sigma 7, the tiny black and white capsule surmounted by the red escape tower.
Above: This ominous vast metallic structure is the inners of the gigantic liquid oxygen tank that forms part of stage 1 of a Saturn V Rocket, as used in NASA’s Apollo and Skylab projects.
Above: Friendship 7 (Mercury) soars skyward carrying John Glen. To myself as a child of the late 70’s/80’s Nasa missions predominantly mean the Space Shuttle and Cape Canaveral. This retro panorama of concrete towers, bunkers, pads and gantries (also at Cape Canaveral) seems somehow much more futuristic, a spaceport from which rockets hurtle to the furthest flung reaches of the solar system. Or alternatively on a somewhat darker note, this fearsome array of rapidly developed rocketry technology, birthed out of the Cold War’s arms and space race, also serves to remind how close our world came to nuclear annihilation.
Above: Prior to the liftoff of Gemini 5, Conrad and Cooper lie expectantly on their couches (combined photograph). This image is presented vertically from within the book, but it’s spun horizontally here, Cooper (right) looks almost waxen inside the helmet.
Above: 5 Days after the Soviet Spacewalk, several astronaut’s wives watch in tremendous anticipation as the first Gemini lifts off with its two man crew. Love this, a broad brushstroke of expression and emotion, much more than just one moment captured here, these faces beam back all the pride, thrill, terror and raw astonishment the Space Program can present. Or maybe it’s a just a summer snapshot with the greatest collection of 60’s sunglasses ever captured by camera.
Above: Astronaut John Glenn peers through a simulated capsule window, he observes star groupings at the Morehead Planetarium in North Carolina. Sighting on the vertical blue line which represents his flightpath, he learns to recognise the stars he will need as navigation guides when he gets into space. What to say about this one, definitely one of the most powerful in the book with a real Dave Bowman / 2001: A Space Odyssey feel, though of course Kubrick’s masterpiece arrived several years later.
It’s only fitting that we sign off with more details on the source, so last but not least here’s a few shots of the box, book and inlay, nicely showing off the colour coded vinyl, If your interested in picking this up then ebay of course is the best place to start, seems to crop up fairly regularly. Here’s a breakdown on the publication.
TO THE MOON – Book Plus Musical Recordings. Time Life Productions 1969. THE BOOK (Section II) captures the story in pictures and text for generations to come. 190 pages. – Slip Case Book: 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ (Includes records).
Dedication: To the yet unborn generations of the world who, in centuries to come, will be able to listen and understand that this extraordinary achievement was accomplished by “average men” like their fathers . . . Michael Kapp.
Side 1 – Prologue: The First message from man on the moon… The beginning of rocketry . . . Tsiolkovsky.
Side 2 – Prologue: World WAR II ends… US seizes remaining V-2’s and the German rocket team surrenders to the Americans.
Side 3 – Mercury: National Space and Aeronautics Administration is set up under the Eisenhower Administration.
Side 4 – Mercury: U.S. Space Probes… Russia photographs the moon with Lunik III… President Kennedy.
Side 5 – Mercury: Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 makes a successful flight and sinks.
Side 6 – Mercury: Slayton is grounded . . . Ranger 4 to the dark side of the Moon.
Side 7 – Gemini: Russia, three-man capsule . . . Vietnam war escalates . . . Russian spacewalk.
Side 8 – Gemini: Armstrong and Scott dock with an Agenda but tumble end over end and must make an emergency landing.
Side 9 – Apollo: Grissom, White and Chaffee die in a ground test for the first manned Apollo.
Side 10 – Apollo: Schirra, Eiselle and Cunningham… the first manned flight with a Saturn IB.
Side 11 – Apollo: McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart prepare first manned test in space for LM… In Earth orbit, perform crucial docking.
Side 12 – Apollo: At Cape Kennedy during the long countdown Liftoff for Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins . . . Trans-lunar injection . . . Separation of Columbia and Eagle.
** Audio notes
If your even mildly into electronic/dance music, you’ll know that these hallow vinyls have been heavily sampled through the years. For further reading on that check this excellent post created by Craig (lender of book) over at DJ History http://www.djhistory.com/forum/to-the-moon
Here’s a taster, Lemon Jelly ‘Space Walk’, this track samples Ed White’s spacewalk during the Gemini program. Made more poignant as he tragically died in the Apollo 1 fire.
Finally I’d just like to point out how uplifting writing and researching this article in particular has been, To The Moon radiates a real sense of wonder and I hope that’s reflected. NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were truly awe inspiring, this post is dedicated to all those involved.