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 Insider. Here are some of the images featured in his book:
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.
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, 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.
The title of his book comes from the civil-engineering term 'abandon in place', which means the structure is no longer maintained.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 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.
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.
Other areas show their age with foliage that's creeping over the structures.
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."
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.
"I hope we'll get back to the moon in my lifetime."
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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