As exciting as the future of space travel may be, its past is just as thrilling. For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964-1983, a new exhibition at London art gallery Breese Little, showcases more than 100 photographs from the golden age of space exploration. The photographs depict NASA from babyhood (Eisenhower established NASA in 1958) to adolescence, picturing the first spacewalk by a United States astronaut (Edmund White in 1965), the first Earthrise witnessed by human eyes (1968), the first walk on the moon (1969), the first-ever shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center (1981), and the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in space (even rockets get lonely).
New research released by the University of California Berkeley and the University of Hawaii suggests that there are likely to be 40 billion Earth-like planets capable of, or with the potential to, support life in the Milky Way alone. “The chances of a solitary existence are clearly dwindling, and the photographs included here are important historical artifacts from the dawn of the space age and this quest to know what lies beyond,” Henry Little writes in the exhibition’s catalog. Maybe someday we’ll look back on these early NASA photos as nostalgic relics of peacetime before the outbreak of intergalactic warfare, or as a regrettable history of how we wound up living on hot, crappy Mars. But for now, they’re simply stunning reminders of the vastness of the universe and the power of human innovation to do the seemingly impossible.
For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964-1983 is on view at Breese Little in London until February 22nd.