On 2nd November, the 445 lot single-owner collection showcases rare gelatin silver and chromogenic prints showing the Moon through the eyes of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts.

The sale features the photographic journal of Alan Shepard, the first American in space in May 1961; to Eugene Cernan, the last man on the Moon in December 1972.

On 20th February, 1962, John Glenn became the first human to photograph the Earth from space as he orbited the planet on board his Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft. Every astronaut from then on would carry a camera into space. ''You know, when you get back, you're going to be a national hero,'' stated NASA’s chief of photography Richard W. Underwood, ''but those photographs, if you get great photos, they'll live forever. Your key to immortality is in the quality of the photographs and nothing else.'' - quoted in Underwood’s Johnson Space Center Oral History.

NASA’s Photographic Division was founded in close partnership with Kodak and Hasselblad, and cameras and film were adapted for use in the harsh conditions of space. After each mission, NASA selected a limited number of the astronauts’ photographs for release to the public. The rest were accessible only to accredited researchers in the archives of the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, from which most of this collection is sourced.

Photography proved to be a vital tool in reaching and exploring the Moon, but NASA also realized the image-building value of photographs in the space program, which generated tremendous public interest. Made in 1965 from Gemini 4, images like Jim McDivitt’s stunning color photographs of his partner Ed White floating freely above the Earth represented the first pictures of man in space. Few sights in human history have been as exhilarating as the first Earthrise over the lunar horizon captured from Apollo 8 in 1968. Seven months later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent only 150 minutes on the Moon, watched live on television by half a billion people, but brought back to Earth on Apollo 11 astonishing images seen by many more. The current excitement surrounding private spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin show that the dream of manned space exploration lives on.

Six manned Apollo missions to the lunar surface from Apollo 11 in July 1969 to Apollo 17 in December 1972 represented the pinnacle of human exploration. In this disorienting and dangerous environment, they explored lunar canyons and towering mountains on foot and via rover. With their cameras, the astronauts conveyed to the rest of humanity the surreal beauty and the profundity of their experience.

Acquired from former NASA scientists and employees, the photographs on offer were brought together by a private collector of 20th-century avant-garde art. His fascination for explorers and adventurers began with the prophetic novels of Jules Verne, leading him to the pioneering astronauts who voyaged to the final frontier, Space.

Many of the photographs bear original NASA marks, captions, and identifying numbers, as well as Kodak paper watermarks, and will be offered with estimates ranging from £250 - £7 000. The Beauty of Space: Vintage NASA Photographs will be held by Skinner on 2nd November, 2017. Check out more here.