The '70s were an exciting time for space exploration. We landed on the Moon in 1969, the Russian Mars 2 probe explored the surface of the red planet in 1973, and things were looking bright for future of space travel.

These recently uploaded - and incredible to look at - illustrations tell the story of the space race, showing just how optimistic we all were back then, as well as some of the cutting edge research and technology from the time.

English tea brand, Brooke Bond & Company, jumped on the space race bandwagon in 1971, creating a book and collectible tea card set about "The Race to Space". The book contained 50 tea cards - just like collectable baseball cards - based on different probes we'd sent out into the Solar System so far, such as the Apollo Lunar Module, the Lunar Roving Vehicle, and a hypothetical future manned flight to Mars.

Although we still haven't actually made it to Mars yet, we definitely admire their optimism. Enquiring young minds could get these 50 tea cards by purchasing, as their namesake suggests, boxes of tea. Each packet of loose tea from Brooke Bond came with one of these cards, kind of like an even older-school version of those dumb toys you could get in cereal boxes and packets of chips (anyone remember Pogs?!).

Brooke Bond

These weren't the first tea cards on the market, and certainly weren't the last, with collectable cards spanning British Birds in 1964 all the way to 1999's Oracle cards. When the Oracle cards got hot (like, say, by holding one over a cup of tea) the heat would change the card to revel a prediction. But 1971's "The Race into Space" collection is definitely our favourite series, and we love all these incredible images of humankind's journey into the cosmos.

You can see more high quality images and excerpts all free on Flickr.

Brooke Bond

But if reading is more your thing, IF Magazine is another science blast from the past that we can't get over. Launched in March 1952 by Quinn Publications, the science fiction magazine was only ever moderately successful during its relatively short run, but the amazing illustrations and stories inside are timeless, and give a great insight into what we thought the future would look like, from more than half a century ago.

Check out the whole collection here.

IF Magazine, Jason Scott