July 20, 1969 marked mankind's giant leap in conquering the universe. American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. The world watched and listened intently as he said his famous words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Technology has, once again, given mankind the chance to relive the magic of man's first conquest in space and preserve it for generations to come. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has uploaded over 8,400 photos of the Apollo lunar missions in the 1960s and 1970s.

NASA's official Flickr account, Project Apollo Archive, contains almost all the photos taken by the astronauts during the Apollo missions in stunning high definition. The Apollo crew was sent on missions with Hasselblad cameras, manufactured by Swedish brand Victor Hasselblad AB.

In 2004, NASA's Houston-based Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center started the detailed and meticulous re-scanning of the Apollo film rolls. The process of re-scanning and transforming the films into digital images took almost a decade to complete. The result was a massive collection of over 8,400 Apollo mission photos uploaded at 1800 dpi resolution. The Project Apollo Archive photos were uploaded chronologically, enabling mankind to view the missions as they happened.

These photos have never been published before. They reveal the 'human' aspect of the space missions. One of the photos showed module pilot Harrison H. Schmitt shaving his moustache onboard Apollo 17. Another interesting photo showed condensation forming on the window during the Apollo 12 mission.

Lunar roving vehicles were first used during the Apollo 15 mission and several photos showed how these lunar rovers were used. There is even a close-up photo of Apollo 17's Commander Eugene A. Cernan and module pilot Ronald E. Evans smiling for the cameras. To date, Cernan was the last man to walk on the lunar surface.

The Project Apollo Archive is expected to ignite a newfound interest in the Earth's companion. With recent news on Mars, experts have argued that a potential human colony on the moon would be more economical given its short distance from Earth.

With Moon Express' successful test of the MX-1 spacecraft, a renewed interest in the moon's considerable resources has been given an added boost. Moon Express has three planned launches to the moon set in 2017. The private company is set to unlock the moon's natural resources and bring back minerals the Earth can use back home like palladium, tungsten, iron, cobalt, gold and most importantly, Helium-3. 

Photo: Project Apollo Archive | Flickr 

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