A history of space exploration as seen through TIME Magazine covers

TIME Magazine's iconic covers have been an indelible part of the pop culture and media fabric since the journal's inception back in 1923. And from 1952 onwards, the magazine has covered humanity's various forays into space, from early speculations about colonizing other planets right through to our current efforts on Mars. And now, to commemorate these covers, TIME has published a gallery of some of their favorites.

A history of space exploration as seen through TIME Magazine coversS

Their covers chronicle a number of historical events, including the launch of Sputnik, the Apollo Program, the catastrophic Space Shuttle disasters, and much more. But it's their very first space-themed issue from 1952 that's the most memorable:

The practical rocket men fear that their gradual march toward space may disappoint the oversold public. All the necessary, cautious first steps (a small missile shot into an orbit, a hit on the moon with a small payload, etc.) are a long way from manned space ships. But Dr. [Werner] von Braun (of the V-2s), who would hurry the cautious missile men along, says that manned space flight "is as sure as the rising of the sun." He tells just how the U.S. military can establish a "satellite space station" in an orbit around the earth, and he insists that such a station could dominate mankind.

Check out the entire gallery here.

All images via TIME.