This photograph, together with the early ‘whole Earth’ images of 1967, was transformative. Here we have possibly the ultimate expression in human terms of where we were at in scientific exploration, space and media technology, and what Tom Wolfe described as the Right Stuff of human aspiration, courage and ability. Here’s this snap-shot of the second man on the Moon, standing on a crumbly alien surface already showing the footprints of this ‘giant leap for Mankind’ – and its brilliantly composed (framed in the 2.25″ square Hasselblad viewfinder) – in sharp, atmosphere-free space, lit by direct sunlight. In a period marked by iconic images of man’s failures – starvation in Biafra, massacres at My Lai, the mass murders of Charles Manson – at last we had an iconic image of our success.
Tom Wolfe: The Right Stuff 1979