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These 15 Retro Pics Prove NASA Was Always Cool
published during a waning crescent moon.
04/01/2016

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1. This IBM electronic data processing machine crunched numbers at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The facility was home to the world’s first full-scale wind tunnel, and shafts such as these recreated realistic flight effects for testing aircrafts’ capabilities in an array of flight conditions. The picture was taken in 1957, when NASA was still dubbed NACA, or the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

nasa was always cool

Man and woman shown working with IBM type 704 electronic data processing machine used for making computations for aeronautical research at Langley Research Center.

2. NACA actually hired women as human “computers” to slog through and compute data in the mid-30s. Pictured here is Melba Roy, who led NASA’s mathematicians, in 1964. Roy helped track the first ever communications satellites named Echo I and II, a duo of massive spherical balloons.

nasa was always cool

Melba Roy headed the group of NASA mathematicians, known as “computers,” who tracked the Echo satellites. Roy’s computations helped produce the orbital element timetables by which millions could view the satellite from Earth as it passed overhead.

3. This image from 1950 features a pressure wind tunnel at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, During wind tunnel tests, the vanes in the eclipse — which was over 30 feet high and almost 50 feet wide — helped force air to turn corners smoothly instead of coalescing along the curves.

nasa was always cool

Guide vanes in the 19 foot Pressure Wind Tunnel at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, form an ellipse 33 feet high and 47 feet wide.

4. As the father of modern rocket propulsion, Dr. Robert H. Goddard was as influential to space travel as the Wright brothers were to flight. Though his work wasn’t initially taken seriously, NASA went on to name the Goddard Space Flight Center after him. Here he is pictured at Clark University in the early ’20s.

nasa was always cool

Dr. Robert H. Goddard at a blackboard at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1924. Goddard began teaching physics in 1914 at Clark and in 1923 was named the Director of the Physical Laboratory.

5. One of the laboratory’s heads, Fred E. Weick, sits in the back of a plane in 1927. In the front is famed American aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was the first to fly alone nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Standing is Tom Hamilton, a pioneer pilot who helped revolutionize propeller technology and shape the aviation industry today.

nasa was always cool

Fred E. Weick, head of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory Propeller Research Tunnel section, 1925-1929, in rear cockpit. Noted aviator Charles Lindbergh in front. Tom Hamilton is standing.

6. NASA introduced its first astronaut class in 1959. Front row, from left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter. Back row: Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.

nasa was always cool

7. A researcher tests how an Apollo capsule would land in sand in a multiple exposure shot from 1961.

nasa was always cool

Multiple exposure of an impact test of the Apollo command module. In this test the Apollo capsule was tested making a sand landing.

8. Here you can see astronauts, including first man on the moon Neil Armstrong (second from left), during desert survival training in 1964 in Reno, Nevada. The other trainees, from left to right: Astronauts Frank Borman, John Young and Deke Slayton.

nasa was always cool

(Aug. 13, 1964) Astronauts Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, John Young and Deke Slayton (left to right) are shown during desert survival training, Reno, Nevada Stead AFB, Reno, NV

9. The insides of the Kennedy Space Flight Center buzzed with activity before the launch of Apollo 11 back in 1969.

nasa was always cool

From the Kennedy Space Flight Center (KSC) control room, Apollo Program Director Lieutenant General Samuel C. Phillips monitors pre-launch activities for Apollo 11.

10. The crew of Apollo 11 — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin — are welcomed back in a New York City parade. The crew hauled back almost 50 pounds of lunar odds and ends for analysis.

nasa was always cool

(August 13, 1969) New York City welcomes the Apollo 11 crew in a ticker tape parade down Broadway and Park Avenue.

11. The Apollo 16 mission was the fifth to carry men to the moon, landing in a previous uncharted area known as the Descartes highlands. Here the crew preps for landing on the moon. From left to right: pilot Charles M. Duke, commander John W. Young, and pilot Thomas K. Mattingly II.

nasa was always cool

Apollo 16 astronauts (left to right), Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke, Commander John W. Young, and Command Module Pilot Thomas K. Mattingly II during a training exercise in preparation for the Lunar Landing Mission.

12. Here you can see the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) in action. The LRV helped astronaut and Apollo 15 mission commander David R. Scott chug along the moon’s surface in 1971.

nasa was always cool

Astronaut David R. Scott, mission commander, with tongs and gnomon in hand, studies a boulder on the slope of Hadley Delta during the Apollo 15 lunar surface extravehicular activity.

13. To get used to zero gravity, cadets ride aboard the “vomit comet,” an aircraft that flies in a specific pattern that creates 30 seconds of weightlessness over and over. Pictured in 1979 are astronaut Guion S. Bluford, the first African-American to blast into space, and aviation safety officer Charles F. Hayes.

nasa was always cool

Guion Bluford Experiences Weightlessness on the KC-135

14. Another simulator is the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) exercise device, pictured here in the early ‘90s. The machine monitored weightlessness effects on astronauts during long flights.

nasa was always cool

15. The Space Shuttle Columbia arrives at the Kennedy Space Flight Center atop an aircraft carrier in 1990.

nasa was always cool

STS-32 Return to KSC

For even more pictures, check out NASA on the Commons on Flickr.