As a wee lad I was president and sole member of The Astronaut Fan Club. It was a front, actually, to obtain countless booklets, brochures, photographs and signed letters from the Mercury, Apollo and Gemini astronauts and NASA support personnel (like “Shorty” Powers, the voice of NASA). I also “stalked,” as it were, X-15 pilots. In fact, I bombarded one of the heroic pilots with so many letters, he commanded me to stop.
Nonetheless, on average I posted four letters per day for over a year; after the first month or so, I was receiving two or more manila envelopes per day from NASA, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force. I amassed autographs from virtually all the Mercury Seven, which are preserved in cardboard boxes filled with mouse leavings.
This year, with the end of the space shuttle and talk of sending more probes to Mars, I thought it might be fun to exhibit what I collected. To my surprise, very few of the official NASA materials were well designed. There were the space-y looking items, but curiously, mid-Century Modernism hadn’t taken hold. This was the era of the famous NASA “meatball” logo, before being replaced by Richard Danne’s and Bruce Blackburn’s “worm,” when fifties perceptions and imaginings of the future were either rooted in the past or Disney-fied.
The images here are from the one 1962 booklet in my hoard that came close to modernity (the designer was not credited).