Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History
Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History

Rare Snapshots From the Space Race

Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History
Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History

In 1961, the Soviet Union successfully sent astronaut Yuri Gagarin into space with a Vostok spacecraft. Just three weeks later, the United States launched Alan B. Shepard Jr. 116 miles above earth. The space race captured the attention and imagination of millions, and astronauts were proclaimed heroes. Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History aims to capture this magic using rare and otherwise unpublished photographs. 

John Bisney and J. L. Pickering—a former correspondent who covered the space program for CNN and a space-flight historian, respectively—brought this rich history to life with rare images from NASA’s first two missions to space: Projects Mercury and Gemini. Between the two of them, they have collected an impressive selection of photographs. The book’s massive assortment comes from NASA archives, fellow collectors, retired NASA and news photographers, and auction houses, and does a wonderful job of illustrating the culture and experience of the space race. You can pre-order the book here to see of all the stunning photographs and learn more about America’s journey to the final frontier. Here's a preview of what you can expect, with captions by the authors.

The second shift of McDonnell Aircraft workers pose with Freedom 7 in the white room at LC-5 on April 28, 1961. Ed Sieblist, assistant foreman, is first-row center. McDonnell won the Mercury spacecraft contract over the Grumman Corp. in 1959 largely because the federal government knew Grumman would have its hands full with a number of critical US Navy projects.

A television cameraman perched atop a Chevrolet station wagon provides TV network pool coverage at LC-5 early on July 19, 1961—the second launch attempt, which, like the first on July 16, was called off due to bad weather.

Glenn in the white room at LC-14 on January 20, 1962 (one month before the eventual launch). The “J” numbers on the spacecraft identified umbilical cable connections.

A CBS-TV cameraman on launch morning at the Mercury Press Site. He operates an RCA TK-31 black-and-white camera with turret-mounted telephoto lenses. A white ABC-TV camera can be seen just below the CBS camera. On the roof (right) is a pool camera shared by the three broadcast television networks.

Cooper with his suit ventilator in front of Hangar S at Cape Canaveral. His Mark IV Goodrich suit incorporated many changes from Shepard’s suit, including boots, improved gloves, and new shoulder construction.

White’s helmet is equipped with a detachable visor assembly with two separate over visors. The gold film-coated outer visor offers protection against visible sunlight (which is blinding when unfiltered by Earth’s atmosphere) and ultraviolet rays. An inner visor provides protection against micrometeoroids and heat. His chest pack contains an emergency oxygen supply and a ventilation control unit for cooling. The open hatch and its window are reflected in his visor.

Earth view: Florida’s east coast

Gemini VII seen from a few feet away. The two spacecraft remained three hundred feet apart or less for more than three revolutions of the Earth over five hours. The two small gold protrusions from the white adapter section are cryogenic spectrometer/interferometers, a USAF experiment to obtain spectral irradiance information about terrestrial features and celestial objects.

The Titan II’s two first-stage engines belch smoke down the two-hundred-foot-long concrete flume after ignition at 11:41 a.m. (EST) on March 16, 1966, in this view looking south. The flume leads directly to the obscured flame bucket and can handle 25,000 gallons of water per minute sent through the bucket for cool­ing and propellant residue neutralizing. Robert Goddard successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket forty years to the day earlier from a relative’s Auburn, Massachusetts, farm.

In the white room at LC-19, Cernan and Stafford prepare to enter Gemini IX-A on the morning of June 3, 1966: their launch day. Backup Pilot Aldrin is behind Stafford, with backup Command Pilot Lovell and McDonnell pad leader Guenter Wendt to the right. The legs of Cernan’s suit are covered with Chromel-R, a cloth woven from stainless steel fibers to protect the astro­naut and suit from the hot exhaust thrusters of the AMU. A blue cover protects his EVA helmet visor. Beginning with this mission, Gemini helmets were made from multiple layers of epoxy-impregnated fiberglass cloth and visors were made of polycarbonate, providing far better impact protection than Plexiglas used previously. Each crewman has two gray life preservers on his parachute harness.

The space­craft is covered with its bridle and parachute lines after the eighty-four-foot-diameter main chute settled around the spacecraft because of the lack of wind.

The ATV recedes from twenty-five to sixty feet away from Gemini XII during a station-keeping exercise on the third orbit from 8:31 to 8:35 p.m. after the first series of docking tests. This sequence was over the Atlantic Ocean.

Gemini XI’s view of the ATV at a distance of twenty-five feet after the astronauts caught up with it over the California coast about an hour and twenty minutes after launch. The docking cone is to the far left and one of the ATV’s horizon sensors is at the bottom edge (center left). The crewmen (who’d been watching the ATV’s acquisition lights in darkness) donned sunglasses when it flashed into sunlight over the Pacific.

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Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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