Practice Makes Perfect: How the Apollo 11 Crew Prepared for Launch

This post was written by Ivy Donnell, a technician in NARA's Motion Picture Preservation Lab. You may have recently seen Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 documentary, featuring archival film from the National Archives’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) holdings. The film footage of Apollo 11 makes the July 16, 1969 launch and subsequent Moon … Continue reading Practice Makes Perfect: How the Apollo 11 Crew Prepared for Launch

Spotlight: Grand Canyon

In honor of Grand Canyon National Park celebrating it's 100th Anniversary on February 26th, The Unwritten Records presents select records from our holdings. Cover of Master Plan for Grand Canyon National Park, 1938 Photo No. 106-WA-227. Grand Canyon, 1872. Photograph by William Bell. Photo No. 57-PS-431A, Grand Canyon looking east from Foot of Torowap, Photograph … Continue reading Spotlight: Grand Canyon

Shooting the Moon: Photos of the Lunar Surface and Beyond

On August 26, 1966 an image graced the front page of the New York Times under the headline, “How the Earth Looks from the Moon.”  The image was of such low quality that the grey sphere which all of mankind calls home was barely recognizable.  Nevertheless, the photograph was remarkable.  For the first time, humans … Continue reading Shooting the Moon: Photos of the Lunar Surface and Beyond

The Measure of a Screen: Motion Picture Aspect Ratios in the Archives

Take a look at the two movie screens in the photos below. Notice anything different? The screen in the color image, photographed in 1998, is much wider than that in the 1946 black-and-white image. Each screen has a different aspect ratio. Merriam-Webster defines motion picture aspect ratio as “the ratio of the width of a … Continue reading The Measure of a Screen: Motion Picture Aspect Ratios in the Archives

Spotlight: The Launch of Sputnik 1

Sixty years ago today, October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent into orbit the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The beach ball sized satellite, weighing 183.9 pounds, took 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. Sputnik's launch captured the world's attention and caught the American public off-guard. They feared the Soviets' ability … Continue reading Spotlight: The Launch of Sputnik 1

“God Speed, John Glenn”

With the passing of former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn on December 8, 2016, the country lost the last of the seven men who constituted the original astronaut team for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Glenn, Alan Shepherd, Virgil Grissom, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra, and Donald Slayton were chosen to … Continue reading “God Speed, John Glenn”

Mission Specialist (MS) Ride at forward flight deck pilots stations controls.

Sally Ride and the Women of NASA

As a girl growing up in the 1980s, Sally Ride was my hero. At that young age, I didn’t yet understand all of the battles women had fought for equality, but if I declared that I was going to be an astronaut someday, no one could dismiss my dream offhand and tell me that was … Continue reading Sally Ride and the Women of NASA

A Medal for Miss Baker, the Original Space Monkey

As I am writing this, there are six people in space, all aboard the International Space Station. While these missions are now routine, in the 1950s scientists weren’t certain that the human body could survive in a weightless environment. Years before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent Alan Shepard into space, American rockets carried … Continue reading A Medal for Miss Baker, the Original Space Monkey

The Challenger’s Teacher in Space Project: Photos and Video

by Judy Luis-Watson, Manager of Volunteer and Education Programs at the National Archives at College Park, MD The inclusion of a teacher, who would become the first private citizen in space, made the Space Shuttle Challenger mission especially exciting. This was the U.S. Government’s twenty-fifth space shuttle mission, twenty-four of which had been completed successfully. … Continue reading The Challenger’s Teacher in Space Project: Photos and Video

Pushing the Limits: The NASA Space Shuttle (Photos)

For more than half a century, the people at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have captured the hearts and minds of the American people.  From man’s initial voyages through Earth’s atmosphere, to the recent exploration of Pluto, NASA has continued push the limits of scientific exploration. While NASA’s accomplishments are too numerous for … Continue reading Pushing the Limits: The NASA Space Shuttle (Photos)