To The Moon (Time-Life Records)

To The Moon (Time-Life Records)

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

Above: Engineers test a fragile-looking Mariner 4, this early interplanetary probe will embark on an 8 month fly-by mission to Mars.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

To The Moon - Time Life Records

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.

Too The Moon - Time Life Records

Too The Moon - Time Life Records

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

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.

45 thoughts on “To The Moon (Time-Life Records)”

  1. Beautiful images. The first image is a striking reminder of how analog the early days of space flight were. The subject sits in a plywood mockup while the technician takes notes with pencil and paper!
    I grew up in Armstrong’s hometown during the 60’s so space related events had a special significance and were followed closely at home and in the classroom. I remember the feeling of being a part of the future portrayed in the stories of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. Seeing these images now reminds me of how outrageously impossible the Mercury space program was and how insanely courageous the first astronauts were.
    Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for sharing.

  2. Awesome post.
    Not sure when that John Glenn photo is from, but just thought I’d add that 2001 was filmed between 1965 and 1967 and so had to imagine what a lot of moon/space travel would look like.

  3. As it happens, I was thrilled to get a copy of this for my birthday! Unfortunately, I don’t have a turntable at the moment, but the book is wonderful on its own. I may have to track down a turntable though…

  4. These are awesome! The helicopters in the third photo are Piasecki H-21 Workhorses (aka “flying bananas”) — they were designed for very cold environments and were used by the USAF for Arctic operations in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

  5. I have an complete set of the original book and LP’s. I bought the set when they were frist published by Time-Life shortly after the first moon landings. I haven’t looked at the book or listened to the LP’s for years, but I may pull it off the shelf and do so. thanks for the memories.

  6. I really wish there was some way to get that photo of the Friendship 7 launch as a poster. And the one of John Glenn looking out the simulated capsule window at the stars.

  7. Very nice.
    Sorry to nitpick, but you wrote several times that the title is Too the Moon, which is, of course, an error.
    Also, North Carolina is missing a final “a”.

  8. When I was a kid I used to want to be an astronaut. The dream was never realized, but I love to write scifi stories which is just as cool. The idea of man in space, of one day meeting races similar to the ones we created….I just can’t put into words.

  9. Hi Kie,
    This is Pat from Melbourne band The Raffaellas,
    We really liked your scan of the wives in the sunglasses watching the Gemini lift off,
    we were thinking of using it as an album cover for an digital single we are about to release,
    would you be happy if we used your scan? and is there an active copyright on the image itself?
    Would appreciate any help, feel free to email us

  10. I happen to have one too.
    I’m still not sure of the market value but I know the historical value is priceless.

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  13. My Dad had this collection! I was enthralled for hours looking at the book as a kid. After he passed, recently, I tried to find it in his house but it seems to be lost over the years, which is such a disappointment. I’d love to find a copy of this again, but these pictures brought back such great memories!

  14. thanks for the comment Scott, and sorry to hear about your dad… Have you tried Amazon ? or Ebay ? I know quite a few people who have copies… Kieran

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