Apr 9 2012: Twenty-Five Monochrome Photographs and Illustrations from The Astronaut Book (Panther Books, 1969)

The final selection of images from Panther’s 1969 annual, The Astronauts’ Book, gathers the extraordinary array of monochrome illustrations contained between the glossy covers. Unaltered by the volume’s previous owner, there is material here that, as an inveterate reader of Space Race literature, I’d never seen before, and if one image conjures both the idealism and pragmatic political complexity of this era it’s probably the portrait of US Astronaut Scott Carpenter seen through layers of printed perspex or glass – the Cape Kennedy ‘astro-globe’ – seen above. Here is a human face simultaneously piercing the veil of mystique around the larger Solar System and entangled inescapably inside it. Elsewhere are Soviet models, imaginary futures and practical demonstrations en route to the Sea of Tranquility, but somehow it’s that picture of Carpenter that really sticks in the mind.

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