Lunar Test Article 8 (LTA8) | Location: Space Centre Houston | Photograph © Benedict Redgrove ‘NASA - Past and Present Dreams of the Future’
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – or NASA, as the world knows it – is an independent agency part of the US federal government, much like the United States Postal Service or the Environmental Protection Agency. But that’s about all those three have in common. Since its inception in 1958, at the height of the Cold War, the work produced by NASA and its engineers has been at the forefront of human aspiration, of our desire to explore and discover places that are, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of miles outside of our comfort zone.
The world of NASA, whether that’s their quiet labs or the roaring launch sites, fascinates people of all ages from all over the world. Our obsession stems from the fact that space travel is the perfect mixture of science, politics, engineering, history, future, danger and courage, but few people outside of the NASA bubble get to experience that world, to enter it and intimately study those objects up close. British photographer Benedict Redgrove, however, has been one of those lucky few.
Through a nine-year-long journey, Redgrove travelled to each of NASA’s locations across the US, frequenting the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, the Michoud and Marshall Flight Centre in Louisiana and Smithsonian archives, capturing the innovations that continue to fascinate us even though the ‘race for space’ is long gone. But no one can just walk up, knock on the NASA door, and expect to be let in: Redgrove spent four and a half years liaising with NASA, ensuring to meet their stringent standards. With access into restricted areas, his photography was able to shine a light on historical NASA artifacts that have never been shown to the public. Redgrove was able to document everything, in a painstakingly detailed fashion, from the intricate details of life-or-death technology to the monstrously big engines that make space travel possible.