The first thing you might notice about the breathtaking new volume from German publisher TASCHEN, The NASA Archives, is the weight of the book itself. The care required to extract the 12-pound tome from its glossy case hints you might be in for a daunting experience. The subject matter is just as heavy: the triumphs, tragedies and as-yet-unrealized dreams bound up in the 60-year history of America’s voyages into space, all told via stunning photos, illustrations and firsthand accounts.

Included are the iconic, beloved snapshots from the Apollo missions, and the spectacularly detailed cosmic vistas from the Hubble Space Telescope—but it is the more rarely seen photos, concept renderings, illustrations and stories of the men and women who made these missions possible that are truly captivating. The NASA Archives brings you behind the scenes with the engineers and crew on the ground as well as into the cockpit with the astronauts who braved the unknown.

The authors behind this unique reading experience are Piers Bizony, Andrew Chaikin and Roger Launius.

Here are a few select images from the book. Prepare to be mesmerized.