Photograph by Roland Miller

America’s Space Age Has Never Looked More Eerie and Otherworldly

Space is the constant unknown, simultaneously a monstrous void and glittering angelic starscape that fascinates and enraptures us. From A Trip to the Moon to Interstellar, we have envisioned and romanticized what lays beyond our planet and solar system. We yearn for answers about what glows so wild in the farthest reaches, knowing we can wonder forever in the restless, unforgiving universe that we theorize is somehow still expanding. Existence grows, a metric we study in a bold attempt to explain ourselves to ourselves. We want spiritual comfort and scientific rattling to twist together in a narrative that we can endure, an endless source of vibrant nutrition for storytellers.

In the 20th Century, humanity finally built and strutted up its mechanical ladder to the heavens to discover the space above our skies; the first step of a grand and beautiful journey that will become the thread of history books to come, widening its place in the narrative as we ourselves evolve in knowledge and know-how. We will become a constant in space, more visitor than stranger, seeing more of what is out there with eyes that shine in awe and familiarity.

But it begins on Earth.

Here is where cultures have looked up and told stories forever. Here is where we discuss, construct, and plot how to barrel into the silent chaos of space. Here is where starry-night dreams thrill us. But, unfortunately, our focus strays and we outgrow our plans, leaving behind an empire of exploration.

So you can thank photographer Roland Miller, who, for 25 years, has traveled to more than 15 NASA launch and research sites across the country to document their current state. Take the above snap of launch pad and gantry with Hermes A-1 Rocket at V2 Launch Complex 33 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico (2006). He calls the project Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History, which is his website, book, and exhibit.

Check out his terrific shots below.

Launch Ring, Launch Complex 34 (Apollo Saturn), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1990.Photograph by Roland MillerLaunch Complex 34 (Apollo Saturn), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2000.Photograph by Roland MillerBlockhouse, Launch Complex 37 (Apollo Saturn), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992.Photograph by Roland MillerPlug Board, Complex 26, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.Photograph by Roland MillerHorizontal Gantry from Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1991.Photograph by Roland MillerSaturn V F1 Engine, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 1997.Photograph by Roland MillerWind Tunnel Test Chamber with Model, NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia, 1997.Photograph by Roland MillerLaunch Control Room, Titan II ICBM Silo 395-C, Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, 1995.Photograph by Roland MillerMissile Fuel Tank, Atlas Launch Complex 13, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992.Photograph by Roland Miller

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