Old, Weird Tech: NASA on Flickr Commons Edition

gossamerpenguin_crop.jpg

NASA has been at the forefront of social media use by government agencies, but it hadn't made a move onto Flickr Commons, where many institutions share public domain historical photos.

That changed today when NASA released a selection of its best photos around the theme of "beginnings." The Internet Archive already has a tremendous number of images from the space agency at NASAImages.org, but I think it's worth thinking of this group as a curated, searchable art show.

The images are split into three sections: Launch and Takeoff, Building NASA, and Center Namesakes. For pure visual appeal, Launch and Takeoff can't be beat, but Building NASA is surprisingly entertaining as an homage to Big Engineering. Namesakes is, predictably, a lot of older white guys posing for photos. But the early images of NASA leaders, like this one of Robert Godard at his launch shack, are stunning.

godard shack.jpg


We pulled a few more good photos from the library. At the top of the page, you see the Gossamer Penguin, a very experimental solar powered aircraft. It's probably the weirdest NASA photo I've ever seen. And I've seen the buttocks-molds of astronauts aligned outside a building.

Langley aero_crop.jpg
Above, you see the "aerodrome," designed by Samuel Langley. The early airplane was launched from the riverboat. It didn't work very well. This is what tended to happen:

Samuel_Pierpont_Langley_-_Potomac_experiment_1903.jpegNote: Not the trajectory you want in a plane on takeoff.

And finally, below, a photograph of some of the people who turned out to watch the Apollo 11 launch. Norman Mailer circulated in that crowd. (Which reminds me: check out the University of Texas' Ransom Center's collection of stuff that Mailer amassed writing about the space program. Handwritten notes, first drafts, press materials. It's all wonderful.)

apollo 11 spectators.jpg


Images: NASA on Flickr Commons.
Presented by

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Technology

Just In