The golden age of space exploration – in pictures

Agenda Target Vehicle

Agena Target Vehicle, also referred to as Thus, part of the Gemini 12 mission in November 1966

Alan Shepard is prepared for flight

Alan Shepard is prepared for flight on the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission in May 1961. Shepard was the first American in space

An Apollo 12 crewmember using a video camera on the moon in November 1969

An Apollo 12 crew member using a video camera on the moon in November 1969

An early prototype of a space suit being tested

An early prototype of a spacesuit being tested in the late 1950s in America

Apollo 9

An unidentified crew member emerges from Apollo 9. Commander James McDivitt, command module pilot David Scott and lunar module pilot Rusty Schweickart spent 10 days in low Earth orbit in 1969

Apollo 14, Commander Alan Shepard

Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard

Apollo 15 mission

At the time, Nasa called Apollo 15 the most successful manned flight ever achieved. Commander David Scott and lunar module pilot James Irwin spent three days on the moon

Astronaut Ed White

Astronaut Ed White spacewalking over southern California during the Gemini 4 mission in June 1965. White and James McDivitt circled the Earth 66 times in four days

Ed White and James McDivitt

Crew members Ed White and James McDivitt during pre-launch preparations for Gemini 4 in 1965. White was killed January 1967 with fellow astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee during pre-launch testing for Apollo 1, when fire broke out in their capsule

Geological survey walk on the moon

A geological survey walk on the moon in December 1972, the last Apollo mission

Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad

Gordon Cooper and Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad in high spirits aboard a US navy recovery ship after their Gemini 5 flight in August 1965

John Glenn and family at home

John Glenn and family at home. Life magazine photographer Ralph Morse was assigned to photograph the early US astronauts and their families in their homes, to give a human face to the Mercury space programme

John Glenn ready for his Friendship 7

John Glenn ready for his Friendship 7 flight in February 1962. The picture is likely to have been taken by the photographer Ralph Morse

Mercury-Redstone 4 mission, flight prepapations

Flight prepapations for the Mercury-Redstone 4 mission, with astronaut Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom in the Liberty Bell 7 flight module, in July 1961

The Earth as seen from the moon during Apollo 12

The Earth as seen from the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the Apollo programme and the second to land on the moon

Training in US for Apollo 17 flight Dec 1972, the last Moon landings

Training in the US for Apollo 17 in December 1972, the last moon landings

Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun, the technical driving force behind the US space programme in the 1950s and 60s

Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht via the guardian

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