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Vintage NASA photos full of space firsts (pictures)

From the first color photograph of Earth from space to Buzz Aldrin's 1966 spacewalking selfie, an auction of vintage NASA images brings together a lot of fabulous space firsts.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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1 of 11 NASA/Buzz Aldrin

First self-portrait in space

Auction house Dreweatts & Bloomsbury put a treasure trove of vintage NASA photos up for bid on Thursday. The collection included a series of space firsts, including a selfie captured by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the first time human eyes saw an Earthrise, and images from the first US spacewalk.

Aldrin was on the selfie bandwagon long before it was an Internet movement. This space selfie was taken in 1966 during the Gemini 12 mission. A vintage print sold for around $9,200.

Related article: Buzz Aldrin's 1966 space selfie sells for $9,200

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2 of 11 NASA

First US spacewalk during Gemini 4

These days, spacewalks are still major events, with NASA Television providing live coverage. The first US spacewalk took place in 1965 during the Gemini 4 mission. Astronaut James McDivitt took this dramatic photo of fellow astronaut Ed White outside the spacecraft. Earth is visible in the background.

A vintage print of this image sold at auction for about $3,400.

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3 of 11 NASA

First view of Earth from the moon

This first image of the Earth as seen from the area of the moon gave humans a new perspective on their home. NASA's Lunar Orbiter captured this image in 1966. A vintage gelatin silver print of this photo sold at auction for about $2,630.

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4 of 11 NASA

First photograph of Mars

The auction of vintage NASA photographs included this image of Mars taken by the Mariner 4 spacecraft. Subsequent NASA missions have given us a much clearer look at the Red Planet, but this image from 1965 was groundbreaking, providing the "first view of another planet from above the Earth's atmosphere."

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5 of 11 NASA

First photo in space taken by a human

NASA astronaut John Glenn snapped this photo from space in 1962 during the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Listed as "the first photograph from space taken by man," a vintage print sold at auction for about $1,700.

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6 of 11 Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

First for curvature of the Earth

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auction house in London sold a vintage print described as "the first photograph of the curvature of the Earth" for about $620. An automatic camera attached to a rocket in 1948 captured multiple images of the Earth. The assembled panorama shows the curvature of the Earth.

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7 of 11 Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

First photo taken from space

A camera hitched a ride on a rocket in 1946 to take this first photograph from space. A vintage print of this photo sold at auction for about $2,160.

The vintage photo's caption reads: "The horizon as photographed at an altitude of 65 miles. At this point the camera was theoretically 720 miles from the horizon and the picture shows 40,000 square miles of space."

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8 of 11 NASA

First spacecraft docking in orbit

The Gemini 8 mission in 1966 featured the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, as seen in this image. The spacecraft were soon forced to undock due to a system failure. Crew members aborted the mission and returned safely to Earth.

vintage print of the docking went unsold at an auction of historic NASA photographs.

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9 of 11 Johns Hopkins University

Color image of the Earth from space

In 1967, humans got to see the first color image of the Earth taken from outer space.

"This rare image was taken from 18,000 miles with a black and white TV camera which took three photographs with red, green and blue filters to create the colour image. The small disc in front of the picture is a colour match card," Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auction house notes. A vintage chromogenic print on fiber-based Kodak paper sold for nearly $500 during an auction of NASA photos.

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10 of 11 NASA

Man on another world

The historic Apollo 11 moon mission in 1969 provided the denizens of Earth with the first photograph of a man standing on the surface of another world. Taken by astronaut Neil Armstrong, the image shows Buzz Aldrin on the moon, setting up a solar wind sheet. A vintage print of the photo sold for $4,320 at auction.

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11 of 11 NASA

First Earthrise seen by a human

Astronaut William Anders was a member of the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit. It orbited the moon, giving the crew the opportunity to become the first humans to witness an Earthrise, as seen in this photo. A vintage print on Kodak paper sold for nearly $12,300.

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