Photography •  History and Science

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Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History

Roland Miller

Stenciled on many of the deactivated facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the evocative phrase “abandoned in place” indicates the structures that have been deserted. Some structures, too solid for any known method of demolition, stand empty and unused in the wake of the early period of US space exploration. Now Roland Miller’s color photographs document the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the nation that once played a crucial role in the space race.

Rapidly succumbing to the elements and demolition, most of the blockhouses, launch towers, tunnels, test stands, and control rooms featured in Abandoned in Place are located at secure military or NASA facilities with little or no public access. Some have been repurposed, but over half of the facilities photographed no longer exist. The haunting images collected here impart artistic insight while preserving an important period in history.


Roland Miller is the dean of the Communication Arts, Humanities and Fine Arts Division at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois.

Roger D. Launius is the associate director for collections and curatorial affairs, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Bob Thall is a professor of photography at Columbia College, Chicago. He has published many photography books, including At City’s Edge: Photographs of Chicago’s Lakefront.

Betsy Fahlman, a professor of art history at Arizona State University, is also the author of New Deal Art in Arizona and other books.

Craig Covault, a journalist who has written thousands of articles on space and aviation, spent many years at Aviation Week and Space Technology, where he was a senior editor. He covered every US space launch since Apollo, including Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, and the Space Shuttle.

Pamela Melroy, a NASA astronaut from 1994 until 2009, piloted two Space Shuttle missions and commanded one.

Beth Laura O’Leary is a professor emerita of anthropology at New Mexico State University. A space archaeologist, she is the coeditor of Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage.


“(Roland Miller) showcases images of deactivated and repurposed defense facilities and space-launch sites around the country.”


The Wall Street Journal

“Roland Miller is on a mission to document the deserted sites of America’s space race.”


The Guardian

“Chronicles long-neglected and largely forgotten aspects of US space history.”



“More than half the buildings in the book have been demolished or repurposed, but the powerful images still preserve the important period in the history of space travel.”


Science Focus

Abandoned in Place can be read as a reverent tour of history, but it’s also a touchstone to a way of looking at the world and the future that unified a nation in ways that few things can.”



“Miller’s arresting photographs are a testament to the early days of American space exploration. They allow us to glimpse part of what went into achieving what Kennedy called ‘the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.’”


Atlas Obscura

“More than just a remembrance of a lost age of infrastructure, Abandoned in Place is a meditation on landscapes of immense historical significance that are overlooked by historic preservation.”



“A phenomenal collection of images.”


Crave Online

“Serves not only as a documentary body of work, but also as an artistic interpretation of these historic sites, preserving a vanishing era in both the space race and the cold war.”


“For those (space artifacts) that can’t be physically preserved, the photos in Abandoned in Place help preserve their memories as nature reclaims their materials.”


The Space Review

“A wonderful collaboration of prose and imagery that highlights the declining state of the sites where humanity lifted off for another world.”


SpaceFlight Insider

“This well-produced coffee-table book is filled with starkly beautiful photographs that evoke bittersweet memories contrasting America’s ‘glory days’ of space exploration with the abandoned remnants of infrastructure that made them possible half a century or more ago.”


National Space Society

Abandoned in Place beautifully documents, both in images and words, the architecture and engineering of a period in which anything was possible: the first Space Age.”



“(Miller) is completely connected to his subjects, and his photographs are a visual extension, filled with reverence and empathy.”



13 x 11 in. 176 pages 113 color photos, 1 map