When the Apollo astronauts traveled beyond the atmosphere and to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s, they carried Hasselblad cameras to document the NASA missions. The Project Apollo Archive launched last month and has released over 11,000 of these photographs into the public domain via Flickr, including almost every Apollo lunar mission film shot in its unprocessed form.
The project is the work of archivist Kipp Teague, who initially started the Project Apollo Archive in 1999 as a website. According to the Planetary Society, the archive was meant to accompany Eric Jones’s Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, a thorough text document on all the Apollo lunar missions. Teague explained the project in a statement:
Contrary to some recent media reports, this new Flickr gallery is not a NASA undertaking, but an independent one, involving the re-presentation of the public domain NASA-provided Apollo mission imagery as it was originally provided in its raw, high-resolution and unprocessed form by the Johnson Space Center on DVD-R and including from the center’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth web site. Processed images from [a] few film magazines to fill in gaps were also obtained from the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Apollo Image Atlas.
The high-resolution photographs reveal the separation of lunar landers, the distant shots of Earth, astronaut footsteps and craters on the moon, as well as the intimacy of the tight space in the capsules, with candid moments of downtime where the astronauts recline with sleeping masks or shave in zero gravity. They also evoke the technology of the time with their vintage, unprocessed color. Some of the photographs are familiar, like Neil Armstrong in the 1969 Apollo 11 capsule, while others are rare — and sometimes blurry or overexposed. It’s still astounding that in 1969, when computers were still goliath in size, NASA launched humans 238,900 miles from the Earth, where they documented their missions on film to be carefully processed on their return. The Project Apollo Archive is sharing selected images on Facebook, and you can find some of our highlights below.
View all of photographs in the Project Apollo Archive on Flickr.