The first US Spacewalk, Jun. 3, 1965. (James McDivitt/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions)
Neil Armstrong spent more than two hours on the moon. But there are few clear photos of him there among the iconic images from that voyage.
The famous footprint photo was of Armstrong’s fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Same with the pictures of Buzz stepping off the lunar module, saluting the U.S. flag, and that famous portrait of Buzz on the surface of the moon. (It should be noted, however, that if you look very closely, you can see Armstrong in the refection of Aldrin’s helmet.) The only pictures of Armstrong were a few fuzzy images from the TV camera and the famous 16mm film.
But one surfaced in 1987, almost two decades after the historic event when two British researchers found a panorama of the moon’s surface taken by Aldrin that shows Armstrong working on the Apollo 11 lunar module. That photo of Armstrong is among the images up for auction this week in London, which include images of some of the pioneering astronauts and the first photo of the planet taken from space in 1946 from a camera fitted on a V-2 missile launched from the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.
Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969 — the only clear photo of his trip. (Buzz Aldrin/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions)
“It’s incredible to realise that many photographs in this auction were unknown to the general public for decades until the complete NASA photographic archive began to appear digitally on the internet,” Sarah Wheeler of Bloomsbury Auctions said in a press release. “These photographs are more than merely documentary, many are simply sublime. They represent a golden age in the history of photography as well, when a few men went to the unknown to bring back awe-inspiring pictures. The view of the first Earthrise over the lunar horizon changed Man’s relationship with the cosmos forever.”
Here’s a look some of the images from the collection:
The first photograph from space: Oct. 24, 1946, taken by camera fitted to a V-2 missile.
(Clyde Holliday/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions)
Alan Bean holds a container of lunar soil with the reflection of Pete Conrad in his visor in 1969. (Pete Conrad/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) The first color image of the Earth from outer space, taken in 1967. Bloomsbury wrote: “This rare image was taken from 18,000 miles with a black and white TV camera which took three photographs with red, green and blue filters to create the colour image. The small disc in front of the picture is a colour match card.” (US Air Force /Johns Hopkins University/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) David Scott of Apollo 9 in March 1969. (Russell Schweickart/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) First selfie from space: Aldrin during Gemini 12 in 1966. (Buzz Aldrin/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 11 lifting off in 1969. “You have to realize that the rocket had to go through the camera, in a sense,” Ralph Morse, the photographer, said. “It had to go through the camera’s field of view. It took me two years to get NASA to agree to let me make this shot.”
(Ralph Morse/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions)
Ed White on the first U.S. spacewalk in 1965. “Captivated by the experience of his spacewalk, Ed White resisted repeated calls from Houston to get back to the craft,” Bloomsbury wrote. (James McDivitt/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) 1965: White in the first in-flight portrait of an astronaut. (James McDivitt/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) 1968: First Earthrise seen by human eyes. “There was nothing in the plan for an Earthrise photo,” astronaut William Anders said. “Indeed, we didn’t even see an actual Earthrise until, on our third orbit, we changed the spacecraft’s orientation to heads up and looking forward. As we came round the back side of the moon, where I had been taking pictures of craters near our orbital track, I looked up and saw the startlingly beautiful sight of our home planet ‘rising’ up above the stark and battered lunar horizon. It was the only color against the deep blackness of space. In short, it was beautiful.” (William Anders/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) 1969: First photograph of a man standing on the surface of the moon. “Aldrin is unfurling the solar wind sheet, designed to trap tiny particles hurled from the distant sun,” Bloomsbury wrote. “The two black spots in the sky above the horizon and the foggy areas seen in the photograph were caused by the refraction of sunlight in the lens of Armstrong’s camera.” (Neil Armstrong/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 12, 1969: Eclipse of the sun from the Earth. (NASA/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 17, December 1972: Harrison Schmitt with the Earth above the U.S. flag. (Eugene Cernan/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 15, August 1971: Portrait of astronaut James Irwin and a rover.”‘When I look at the Moon I do not see a hostile, empty world,” astronaut David Scott said. “I see the radiant body where man has taken his first steps into a frontier that will never end.” (David Scott/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 15, 1971: Last photograph taken on the lunar surface. (David Scott/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions) Apollo 7, Oct. 1968: Florida. (Walter Cunningham/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions)
The auction “From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs” will be held on Feb. 26. You can view the catalogue here.