Staring into the camera, floating high above the Earth, astronaut Buzz Aldrin must have been over the Moon with this incredible shot – the first ever selfie in space.
He took the snap in 1966, on the Gemini 12 mission to test vital equipment.
The archive covers Nasa’s space programme from its very first beginnings in the late 1940s through to the triumphant moon landing of 1969 and beyond.
Another highlight is a ‘selfie’ taken by legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Gemini 12 mission of 1966.
Aldrin, the mission pilot, took the shot of himself looking back towards Earth, unbeknownst that he was almost 50 years ahead of the trend.
The only known-of photo of Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the Moon also features in the archive, as does an iconic 1972 shot of Apollo 17’s Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt on the Moon with the Stars and Stripes in the foreground and Earth in the distance.
The pictures taken by John Glenn, the first astronaut to take a camera into space, and an album of shots of Ed White performing his 1965 spacewalk, the first by an American, are in the collection too.
Many of the photos remained unseen in the vaults at Nasa until the late 1980s when they were discovered by archivists.
One of the stars of the collection is the first ever photo of Earth from space, which was taken on a camera mounted on a rocket in 1946 that was blasted 65 miles above the atmosphere.
The camera snapped away at one frame every 1.5 seconds before the rocket plummeted back to Earth. The camera smashed on impact but the film role was salvaged and developed.
The resulting grainy black and white photographs were stitched together to make one shot – and it changed man’s relationship with space forever.
The images also show the difficulties of shooting in space — many are overexposed or suffer from light leaks, something rarely seen in the glossy photographs Nasa releases today.
All the images are Nasa originals, bearing their unique stamp, caption and identification number.
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