Roland Miller

These haunting photos show what's left of America's space race

So eerie but beautiful.

LYDIA RAMSEY, BUSINESS INSIDER
10 MAR 2016
 

Scattered around the US are the remnants of a space race from half a century ago. Before it fell completely into disarray, Roland Miller decided to capture the ruins on camera. In his book Abandoned in Place (available at the University of New Mexico Press and Amazon), Miller gives a glimpse of life in the areas left over from the missions that took us to the moon.

Miller's interest started in the early '90s when he was working at a college near Cape Canaveral. An environmental engineer who wanted Miller to help dispose some photography chemicals showed him Complex 19, which launched the Gemini missions, NASA second round of manned spaceflight projects.

 

"It was immediately clear to me that I wanted to photograph it," Miller told Business InsiderHere are some of the images featured in his book:

Miller's interest started in the early '90s when he was working at a college near Cape Canaveral. An environmental engineer who wanted Miller to help dispose some photography chemicals showed him Complex 19, which launched the Gemini missions, NASA second round of manned spaceflight projects. "It was immediately clear to me that I wanted to photograph it," Miller told Business Insider.
Launch Ring, Apollo Saturn Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1990. Image: Roland Miller 

Although it wasn't easy getting permission to run around on deactivated bases on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Miller was persistent. "It was obvious that it was already pretty badly decayed and wouldn't be there forever," he said.

Although it wasn't easy getting permission to run around on deactivated bases on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Miller was persistent. "It was obvious that it was already pretty badly decayed and wouldn't be there forever," he said.V2 Launch Site with Hermes A-1 Rocket, Launch Complex 33 Gantry, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 2006. Image: Roland Miller

Miller prefers to take his photos right when the Sun is coming up. That lighting was particularly stunning at Cape Canaveral, where, he said, "If the Atlantic Ocean is calm enough, it's almost like you have two Suns."

Miller prefers to take his photos right when the sun is coming up. That lighting was particularly stunning at Cape Canaveral, where, he said, "If the Atlantic Ocean is calm enough, it's almost like you have two suns."Rocket Thrust Mounts, Gemini Titan Complex 19, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1991. Image: Roland Miller

Miller, now Dean of Communication Arts, Humanities, and Fine Arts at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, went all over the country to get his photos, like this one of the pressure gauge panel in Santa Susana in Southern California.

Miller,now dean of communication arts, humanities, and fine arts at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, went all over the country to get his photos, like this one of the pressure gauge panel in Santa Susana in Southern California.Pressure Gauge Panel, Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand, Boeing Facility, Santa Susana, California, 1998. Image: Roland Miller

The title of his book comes from the civil-engineering term 'abandon in place', which means the structure is no longer maintained. The term is stenciled on a number of buildings on Cape Canaveral, including Complex 34, site of the deadly Apollo 1 fire.

The title of his book comes from the civil-engineering term "abandon in place," which means the structure is no longer maintained. The term is stenciled on a number of buildings on Cape Canaveral, including Complex 34, site of the deadly Apollo 1 fire.Apollo Saturn Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992. Image: Roland Miller

The structures remain largely intact because they were built to withstand burning rocket fuel. "One engineer told me that [for] one structure they'd need to develop an entirely new method of demolition to demolish them," Miller said.

The structures remain largely intact because they were built to withstand burning rocket fuel. "One engineer told me that one structure they'd need to develop an entirely new method of demolition to demolish them," Miller said.Catacombs, Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand, Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1998. Image: Roland Miller

But the signs of age on metal structures show. This close-up of a NASA logo from the Mercury Mission Control - the first manned spaceflight program - is striped with deteriorating paint and water damage.

But the signs of age on metal structures shows. This close-up of a NASA logo from the Mercury Mission Control — the first manned spaceflight program — is striped with deteriorating paint and water damage.NASA Logo, Mercury Mission Control, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2009. Image: Roland Miller

Other areas show their age with foliage that's creeping over the structures.

Other areas show their age with foliage that's creeping over the structures.Cable Way, Apollo Saturn Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2000. Image: Roland Miller

The project and its title, "Abandoned In Place," Miller said, are "an obvious metaphor for the loss of interest in the Apollo program after the first lunar landings and also for stepping back from what I like to refer to as extra-orbital space exploration."

The project and its title, "Abandoned In Place," Miller said, was "an obvious metaphor for the loss of interest in the Apollo program after the first lunar landings and also for stepping back from what I like to refer to as extra-orbital space exploration."Clean Room Winch, Universal Environmental Shelter, Titan Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2006. Image: Roland Miller

His mission with the book is to get people as interested in space exploration as they were back in the '60s. He'd love to see plans to go back to the moon, or Mars.His mission with the book is to get people as interested in space exploration as they were back in the '60s. He'd love to see plans to go back to the moon, or Mars.Blast Door, Apollo Saturn Complex 37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1991. Image: Roland Miller

"I hope we'll get back to the moon in my lifetime."

"I hope we'll get back to the moon in my lifetime."Blockhouse, Apollo Saturn Complex 37, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992. Image: Roland Miller

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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