Immense archive of nearly 10,000 extremely rare vintage NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and North American Aviation/North American Rockwell (Downey) photographs documenting the complex production processes of the Apollo command and service module over the program’s first five manned missions. The content of this photographic archive offers a comprehensive, fly-on-the-wall glimpse at the inner-workings of NASA and its prime contractors during the 1960s and early 1970s, the organization’s most trying, influential, and productive period. A visual history of how Apollo gear and spacecraft for missions 1, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were designed, tested, and ultimately greenlit for flight, this unprecedented collection places unique focus on the associated and futuristic flight hardware, while conversely revealing the great many individuals involved with such a Herculean task of bringing man to the lunar surface. Many of the photographs are unique and have not previously appeared or been available in the public domain.
The photos, glossy and silver gelatin, ranging in size from 8 x 10 to 8.5 x 11, are respectively marked on the front with a “North American Aviation Photographic Department” box, or on the reverse with a “TRW Photographic Services” stamp, with the reverse of many bearing “A Kodak Paper” or “This Paper Manufactured by Kodak” watermarks. Additionally, numerous photos feature valuable information captions affixed to either the reverse or to a front border, with some bearing punch holes from filing, and a small selection of photos stapled together.
Subjects include, but are not limited to the following: astronauts, personnel, launch complexes, and office and training buildings; satellite and helical antennae; splashdown and recovery; numerous stills of equipment, models, experimental aircraft, and hardware; the lunar rover; various of images of rocket launches and the Earth from space; and function and fitting tests for the A7L pressure garment assembly. Subject matter aside, a large segment of these photographs are brilliantly captured and very aesthetically pleasing to the artistic eye.
A portion of the archive is dedicated to the ‘boilerplate’ command module, which was constructed to undergo various tests and to serve as training vehicles for astronauts and other mission crew members; captions for these photos include (some duplicates):
“Boilerplate #23 Command Module (For Launch) Mission Sequencer…12-2-64.”
“Boilerplate #12 Interior Wiring…11-27-63 (Kennedy).”
“Duo-Mode Explosive Separation Test on Boilerplate #12 at Impact Test Tower…10-14-64.”
“Boilerplate Drop Test No. 74…#28 Interior 3 Couches & 3 Dummies.”
“Boilerplate #15 in Final Assembly & Checkout…1-30-64.”
“Boilerplate #12 S/M C/M & LES in ATO Area for EDI…9-10-63.”
“Test set up of the Canard Thruster Development.”
“C/M Structural Prep. & Modifications, Earth Impact Vehicle, Interior and Exterior…8-23-67.”
“Apollo Boilerplate #12 A C/M Egress Hatch, This B/P Is Being Refurbished for Future Drop Tests.”
“Apollo B/P #22 in Spacecraft Final Assembly Showing Systems Installation…12-8-64.”
“B/P #12 LES Motor Interfaced with LES Tower…Connected to DITMCO…9-28-63.”
“Boilerplate Assembly Process in the Manufacture Area…11-1-63.”
“Loading of Boilerplate C/M #8 & Adapter #14 of Stack #13 into Guppy at Long Beach Airport…2-15-64.”
“B/P #28 C/M Impact Test of Quarter Segment OFC/M, AFT Heat Shield…12-22-64.”
“Boilerplate #28 Water Impact Drop Test #74…10-30-64.”
“Boilerplate #28 Command Module. Removal of Damaged Parts…11-3-64.”
“Heatshield for Boilerplate #27 Being Shipped to White Sands…3-3-65.”
“Flammability Test, Command Module, Boiler Plate 12 R&D…7-14-67.”
The archive includes several photos related to the Apollo ‘J’ missions, with particular focus on hardware and equipment. Caption examples are as follows:
“S/C 113 Mass Spectrometer Modification…11-11-71”; “S/C 113 S/M H2O2 Shelf Sector L with Tanks”; “S/M 105 Sector 1 Bay Closure…3-22-71”; “(ALEM) S/M 105 Instrumentation Sector 4, Acoustical & Vibration Test”; “ITI Inspection 817 S/C 105 S/M Bay 4, Fuel Cell, H2 Tank, Cryo Shelf, FWD & AFT Bulkhead Closeout”; “S/C 111 CSM in Storage with Green Environment Cover Inflated…4-23-71”; “Mockup 18 SIM Bay Dismantling…1-22-71”; “Mockup Sector 4 Cryo Shelf…11-11-70”; and “Mockup #18 SIM Bay1…10-27-70.”
Also included are several photographs related to the testing of the Block II CSM 105, a module originally used for acoustic and vibration testing for the forthcoming Skylab missions, with captions reading: “Skylab PGA Suit Packing…9-28-71”; “Service Module 2TV-2 EPS Equipment Desk Installation…3-20-70”; “S/C 105 Bay PSM Battery & Scientific Experiment Static Test Setup…5-12-71”; “S/C 105 Prior to W/B for Shipping to Houston…8-18-72”; “S/C 105 C/M After Weight & Balance Prior to Addition—AL Equipment…4-27-72”; “S/C 115 S/M Closed Circuit Viewing of Check Valves for X Ray…3-24-71”; “Rescue Vehicle Couch Clearance Evaluation…5-19-71”; and “CM Interior Harness Routing Changes in Mockup…8-28-72.” Accompanied by a NASA manual entitled "Terrain Photography in the Gemini IV Mission: Preliminary Report," and a staple-bound distribution list for Jerry Slezak, marked as "LRL Crew Reception Area Operations Manual."
The archive also features a large assortment of official NASA lithographs celebrating the Apollo program, as well as more modern NASA photographs, with some black or red-numbered, showing images from various Space Shuttle missions, such as EVAs, launches, and official astronaut and full crew portraits. The Space Shuttle program is also represented by several hand-made marketing program sheets. Also included: various negatives and contact sheets; a press packet for the Ulysses spacecraft; a binder for the Drop Point computer board; a large binder containing file descriptions for numbered NASA photographs; a NASA Photography Index from 1987; a NATOPS Serving Checklist; a hardcover copy of Spacecraft Technology from Spartan Books; and various technical brochures, packets, pamphlets, and information guides.
In overall very good to fine condition, with scattered wear that includes creases, edge dings, staple and puncture holes, and waving to some photos; given the sheer number of photos present, the majority of these photographs are in ideal, clean condition.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.