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NASA / Unidentified Photographer

Wernher Von Braun visiting President Eisenhower following the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Project Mercury, January 21, 1959

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in)

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Bill Taub

The Original Seven Project Mercury astronauts

Project Mercury, April 30, 1959

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.5 x 25.8 (8 x 10in), with NASA HQ caption on the verso (indicating the print was made in 1963-1964 due to the ZIP code), numbered “NASA B-59-43” in black in top margin

16 c
Taken by a TV camera on board Tiros I, first satellite to transmit TV pictures from space

First television images of Earth from space; northeastern North America

Tiros I, April 1, 1960

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), with NASA credit stamp on the verso

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Taken by a TV camera on board Tiros I, first satellite to transmit TV pictures from space

Earth from space; Straits of Gibraltar

Tiros I, 1960

Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), with “AUG101960” stamp on the verso

Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
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NASA SP-350, p. 26.
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Lot Essay

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In response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA, on July 29, 1958.

“According to Public Papers of the Presidents, he released a statement upon signing the bill. This usually means that he did not deliver the statement in person, so there was no ceremony and there are no photos of President Dwight D. Eisenhower signing the National Aeronautics and Space Act” (

NASA began operations on October 1, 1958. Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States, was publicly announced on December 17. Originally called Project Astronaut, President Dwight Eisenhower felt that gave too much attention to the pilot. Instead, the name Mercury was chosen from classical mythology.

The photograph shows Von Braun in the Oval Office receiving the “Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Award” from President Eisenhower. Secretary of Army Wilber Brucker is at the left.

Following the creation of NASA, Von Braun predicted manned circumlunar flight within ten years, and a manned lunar landing and return mission a few years thereafter. Under NASA, he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.

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The Mercury Seven were first announced to the world on April 9, 1959, and were then expected to report to the Langley Space Task Group to begin their training program only a few short weeks later, on April 27. All seven were military test pilots, a requirement specified by President Eisenhower to simplify the selection process.

Bill Taub took the photograph on April 30, 1959 during the first training period of the Mercury Seven at the Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.
As NASA’s first senior photographer, Taub covered every major event from the beginning of the Mercury project through to the end of Apollo.

“Mercury astronauts show configuration of Atlas booster and Mercury capsule” (NASA caption).

“As project Mercury began in the late 1950s, NASA’s Langley Research Center was thrust full force into the national spotlight with the arrival in Hampton of the original seven astronauts. Under the tutelage of the Space Task Group, (from left front row) Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Donald “Deke” Slayton, Gordon Cooper, (back row) Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra and John Glenn were trained at Langley to operate the space machines that would thrust them beyond the protective environment of Earth’s atmosphere” (

16 c
This sequence series of photographs were among the first taken by the weather-eye satellite Television Infrared Observation Satellite I (Tiros I) from an altitude of about 450 miles several hundred miles east of the Atlantic Coast on its first day of operation, April 1, 1960. The white area shows a cloud mass over the northeastern United States and Canada. Dark area at bottom right is the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The photos were made at intervals of less than a minute and sent by television to receive at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and then transmitted to Washington.

These first television images of Earth from space transmitted by Tiros I changed our understanding of the Earth and its resources.

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The first television images of Earth from space were transmitted by Tiros I, beginning on April 1, 1960. This photograph shows the Straits of Gibraltar.

“In 1960, Tiros was launched with two modified television cameras to record cloud cover. The images of the cameras were converted to electric impulses which were stored on magnetic tape for transmission to the Earth when the satellite was within range of a receiving station. There the signals were converted back to images that were recorded on film. Tiros circled the Earth at a minimum distance of 428.7 miles (perigee) and a maximum of 465.9 miles (apogee) every 99.1 minutes. The pictures showed coastlines of the Earth with remarkable clarity, but the definition was not sufficient for them to be used for terrain reconnaissance. But the pictures gave the first view of global cloud cover and proved of such immense value to meteorologists that others were hurled into orbit” (Newhall, p. 114).

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