31 Fantastic Photos from NASA’s Glory Days

Published April 28, 2015
Updated January 9, 2020
Ed White

Ed White floats out of the Gemini IV capsule during the first U.S. spacewalk in 1965.

The Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957. For United States leaders, it was one of the chilliest moments of the Cold War as the Soviets had shown technical capabilities far more advanced than their own and expanded the “battlefield” not just to the sky, but outer space.

A year after the Sputnik launch, President Dwight Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in an effort to catch up – and hopefully pass – their Soviet rivals in the so-called “Space Race.”

In the following years, NASA launched a sequence of programs – Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo – that would systematically check off all the steps needed to explore space. Mercury focused on getting a man into orbit. Gemini put two-men teams into space to perform spacewalks, separate sections of spacecraft, and safely link them together again. Apollo headed to the moon, and our world would change.

These were the glory days of manned space flight. And on July 20, 1969, the scientists and pilots at NASA completed one of the most amazing feats in human history when two human beings walked on the moon for the first time. The gallery below celebrates the people who made that milestone happen and who built on its success in the years afterward.

Vintage NASA Test Flights
Vintage NASA Cowboy Pilot
Vintage NASA Fighter
Vintage NASA Walt Schirra
31 Fantastic Photos from NASA’s Glory Days
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Love space exploration? Then be sure to visit All That Is Interesting's other galleries on fascinating space facts and more vintage NASA.

John has been writing for All That Is Interesting since 2014 and now lives in Madrid, Spain, where he writes and consults on international development projects in East Africa.