These Apollo pictures show the crowded life of lunar astronauts

Note: This story, published in 2015, is being re-promoted as part of our #sputnik60 celebration of the planet's first artificial satellites, Sputnik 1 and 2. For the month of October 2017, we will be resurfacing cool stories about the Space Race.

The Apollo spacecraft came in two livable parts, but they were small. The command module was the gumdrop-shaped vehicle that was the crew's main living quarters. 10 feet 7 inches from base to apex and 12 feet 10 inches around at the base, the 210 cubic feet of livable space was crammed with three couches and all the instrumentation and display panels the crew would need to manage the entire lunar mission. This was the vehicle the astronauts launched in and the one fitted with a heat shield that would keep them safe during their fiery return through the Earth's atmosphere. It was their home away from home in space.

The only thing the command module couldn't do was land on the Moon; that was the job of the dedicated lunar module. And it was even smaller. It gave two astronauts just 160 cubic feet of livable space for up to three days on the Moon, which was the length of Apollo 17's stay.

Sophisticated as the spacecraft were, the living conditions were spartan to say the least. And the difficultly and occasional awkwardness is brilliantly captured in the small hangful of Hasselblad images the astronauts took of one another in space. They're scattered in the full magazines, which have recently been rereleased in a series of high resolution galleries on Flickr.

A couple of additional links, since a great article popped up from Robert Pearlman on Collect Space since I posted this gallery. Robert has the story behind the Flickr archive, which is the story of Kipp Teague's labour of love: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-100815a-apollo-moon-photos-flickr.html. The Project Apollo Archive (http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html) is another of Teague's and it's been my favourite browsing place/site to sift through with coffee all the time page for ages. And it's worth mentioning that a lot of these images -- because they aren't new and unseen! -- are beautifully contextualized in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/main.html) and the Apollo Flight Journal (http://history.nasa.gov/afj/) projects. (edited October 9, 2015)

Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell on the left and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert (not totally pictured) assemble the makeshift carbon dioxide filter on their lunar mission, the one marked by the exploding oxygen tank. April, 1970.NASA
Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan

Gene Cernan

Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 9 Command Module Pilot Dave Scott

Smiling Scott

Apollo 9 Command Module Pilot Dave Scott smiling and out of focus in Earth orbit. March, 1969.NASA
Apollo 13's flight. April, 1970.

Sleeping in Space

An astronaut (I think it's Jack Swigert?) sleeping during Apollo 13's flight. April, 1970.NASA
An Apollo 14 astronaut

Apollo 14

An Apollo 14 astronaut is half seen in this fuzzy shot of the command module. February, 1971.NASA
Apollo 17 Command Module Pilot Ron Evans

Space Hygiene

Apollo 17 Command Module Pilot Ron Evans and an apparently shirtless Lunar Module Pilot Jack Schmitt possibly brushing his teeth. December, 1972.NASA
Sunlight streaming into the Apollo 9 command module.

Sunlight in Space

Sunlight streaming into the Apollo 9 command module. March, 1969.NASA
Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Jack Schmitt

Grooming Around the Moon

Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Jack Schmitt shaving during his lunar mission. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan.

Gene Cernan

Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 11. July, 1969.

Through the Tunnel

The view through the docking tunnel between the command and lunar modules on Apollo 11. July, 1969.NASA
Apollo 17 Command Module Pilot Ron Evans.

Ron Evans

Apollo 17 Command Module Pilot Ron Evans looking a little worried. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan.

Moody Lighting

Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan wearing a snoopy cap and full suit in space, minus the helmet. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 9 Commander Jim McDivitt.

Jim McDivitt

Apollo 9 Commander Jim McDivitt during his orbital mission. March, 1969.NASA
Apollo 10.

Apollo 10

Two fuzzy astronauts on board Apollo 10, which went to the Moon but didn't land. May, 1969.NASA
Neil Armstrong during Apollo 11's flight.

Moonwalker

A slightly out-of-focus Neil Armstrong during Apollo 11's flight. July, 1969.NASA
Gene Cernan sleeping in some tight quarters aboard Apollo 17.

Cramped Quarters

Gene Cernan sleeping in some tight quarters aboard Apollo 17. December, 1972.NASA
An Apollo 17 astronaut's bottom half in space.

Awkward Legs

An Apollo 17 astronaut's bottom half in space. December, 1972.NASA
Apollo 7 Commander Wally Schirra.

Dramatic Commander

Apollo 7 Commander Wally Schirra during the first manned Apollo mission. October, 1968.NASA
Apollo 7's orbital mission.

Happy Camper

Lunar Module Pilot (without a lunar module) Donn Eisele during Apollo 7's orbital mission. October, 1968.NASA
Apollo 7's Walt Cunningham.

Bright and Airy

It doesn't look too cramped with so much sunlight! Apollo 7's Walt Cunningham. October, 1968.NASA