posted 05-07-2023 02:59 PM
Just got my hands on a copy of Photographing America's First Astronauts (thanks to J.L. Pickering) and what a terrific photo-archive of NASA's first photographer Bill Taub it is.
Noted authors J.L. Pickering and John Bisney have once again joined forces in putting together another unique series of Space Age photography books. This one is devoted to the photo career of Taub with the approval and support of his family.
There are hundreds of perhaps never-seen before photographs of NASA's Project Mercury years. Most are published in their original black-n-white formats (but with many color shots as well).
One of my favorite pictures that I have not seen before, since I am an aerospace memorabilia collector, was on Page 186 at top. It shows John Glenn at a post-flight party in Cocoa Beach receiving a special gift from his MA-6 launch team of a multi-pin launch umbilical connector encased in a nice acrylic. Such photos as this are rarely seen and help document and spotlight those earlier space memento gifts.
There are so many photo-topics included of our nation's first-man-in space program covered in the 311-page hard-cover book. Some of those photos that were of interest to me are:
"Area 39" of the Cape
JFK visits to the Cape and the White
House by the astronauts, top ranking
Mercury officials, and their families
Other astronaut family visits to the Cape
Some great Cocoa Beach parade scenes
A station wagon vehicle parked on Pad's 5
concrete base for covering a pre-launch
pad activity as a press pool coordinator
Not too often seen news media related
views in and around the Cape area
"The People of Mercury" with pictures of
space workers with many of them wearing
badges and pinbacks (all from a space
memorabilia angle in being a collector)
Unseen Deke Slayton photos of him in a
Mercury spacesuit and others of him
during those pioneering Mercury days
Some great Mercury launch vehicle and
Inside the first astronaut quarters at
Hangar S with three shots that I can't
recall seeing before
Shorty Powers joking around with the
Mercury 7 astronaut team while standing
in front of a F-106 jet at Langley Air
There is even a photo of a Mercury spacecraft model made from a trash can with the lid used for the heat shield (an impressive piece of work) surrounded by 5 of the 7 astronauts.
Another shot that I like depicts Scott Carpenter signing a lot of his portrait lithos while on an airplane flight from Patrick AFB to Washington, D.C. as his daughter Kristen looks on.
On a personal note, it was good to see Chapter 10, "Beyond Mercury," as I had been a part of those events and was even asked by Howard Benedict and Alan Shepard for the The Mercury 7 Foundation to accompany the former Mercury astronauts on their first visits to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and U.S. Space Camp in Titusville. I even served as an observer consultant and volunteer photographer in helping document some of those earlier visits and events. That chapter brought back some memories long ago.
Great stuff J.L. and John and what a well-deserved tribute to Bill Taub's Mercury photography career. Well done guys!