These 25 Vintage NASA Photos Place You At The Scene Of Space Exploration’s Most Important Moments

On April 13, 1970, an oxygen tank exploded aboard Apollo 13, forcing American astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise to act quickly in order to save the spacecraft — as well as their own lives. The explosion forced the crew to abandon their mission — to reach the moon — but the crew’s heroics saved the craft, and saved NASA from another tragedy just three years after the Apollo 1 disaster.

Forty-six years later, we look beyond those two accidents and survey, via photographs from the missions, some of the most important achievements in the history of the Apollo program:

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Apollo Photos

A view from onboard Apollo 7 during the Earth orbit. The Apollo 7 crew —Commander Walter M. Schirra, Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele, and Lunar Module Pilot R. Walter Cunningham — was able to fulfill the mission initially intended for the doomed Apollo 1.

Donn Eisele

Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele aboard Apollo 7 during its 11-day Earth-orbital test flight.

Walter Cunningham

Apollo 7 Lunar Module Pilot Walter Cunningham. Apollo 7's was the first crew sent into orbit around the Earth.

Space Pen

Cunningham writes with a space pen aboard Apollo 7. The Apollo 7 crew also transmitted the first live television broadcast from a U.S. spacecraft.

Apollo 9

An astronaut peeks out of the Apollo 9 Module with the curvature of the Earth shown clearly in the background.

Lunar Module

Apollo 9 was the first mission to include the Lunar Module.

Space Walk

The Apollo 9 crew of Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart spent 10 days in orbit performing many tests that would be critical to eventually landing on the moon.

Dave Scott

David Scott (above) would later be the Commander on Apollo 15.

LM Undocking

The Apollo 10 Lunar Module was able to navigate within 8.4 nautical miles of the lunar surface, the point at which powered decent to the moon’s surface would commence.

Orbit Return

The success of this mission enabled the first lunar landing attempt with Apollo 11.

Flag Moon

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board, landed on the surface of the moon on July 20th, 1969.

Neil Armstrong

Shortly after it landed, Armstrong (above) became the first man to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin

Aldrin (above) would soon follow Armstrong, becoming the second man to ever step on the lunar surface.

Neil Descent

Neil Armstrong climbing out of the Lunar Module and onto the surface of the moon.

Lunar Landing

Above is the first EVA (Extravehicular Activity) photo ever taken — the first frame taken by Neil Armstrong from west of the ladder.

Moon Walk

Aldrin preparing to deploy two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP) on the surface of the moon.

Apollo 11

Aldrin stands saluting the American Flag upon the lunar surface. The astronaut's footprints are clearly visible in the frame.

Apollo EVA

Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the lunar landings were faked by NASA and that the lunar walks never happened.

The theories were put to the test in and all were debunked.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 was the sixth American manned space flight and the second to land on the lunar surface.

Apollo12 EVA

The Apollo 12 mission was the first to take a color television camera onto the moon's surface, but the camera was accidentally destroyed when Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean pointed it towards the sun.

Lunar Dish

The Apollo 12 landing occurred near the Surveyor 3 unmanned space probe which landed in 1967. The crew retrieved some parts from the Surveyor craft to be returned to Earth to study the effects of long term exposure of the lunar environment.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970 and was intended to be the third manned mission to land on the moon's surface. However, two days into the mission, an oxygen tank exploded onboard, crippling the Service Module, which was vital to the Command Module.

Crew Onboard

The crew had to improvise and repair an onboard air purifier in order to decrease the carbon dioxide levels and save the astronauts' lives.

Duct Tape

The purifier did not fit properly, so duct tape was used to solve the issue — it essentially allowed them to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Apollo nasa missions Safe Return

Despite low power and low oxygen, Apollo 13 made its successful return to Earth on April 17, 1970.

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Then And Now: The World’s First Cell Phone Looks A Lot Bulkier Than Today’s

First Cell Phone Cooper

Right: The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the first cell phone ever made commercially available (1984 model). Left: Martin Cooper, the lead inventor of the DynaTAC and the father of the cell phone, in a 2007 reenactment of the very first cell phone call ever made on a DynaTAC prototype in 1973. Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

On April 3, 1973, Motorola employee Martin Cooper made a very consequential phone call. Dialing up AT&T’s Joel Engel from midtown Manhattan, Cooper informed Engel that Motorola had beaten AT&T to the punch on a new project they’d both been trying to develop: The world’s very first cell phone. Cooper’s call came not from an office building, but, for the first time ever, from the street.

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Stephen Hawking Launches $100 Million Search For Aliens

Stephen Hawking Aliens

Yuri Milner (left) and Stephen Hawking. Circled: Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri star system, and the nearest known star to the Sun. Image Source: ATI Composite; Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Breakthrough Initiatives; Wikimedia Commons

The hunt for alien life has gained serious traction with a new project funded by Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner.

Their project, Breakthrough Starshot, is a philanthropic endeavor that focuses on space exploration and hopes to eventually lead us to extraterrestrial life. Mark Zuckerberg will join Breakthrough’s board.

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