In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, looking like a scene from an H.G. Wells novel, engineers inspect and test a boilerplate Mercury space capsule. Note the array of bulky test equipment on the table and the less than clean-room conditions.
Today such testing is conducted under virtually sterile conditions in a completely controlled environment.
Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).