Astronaut Central is a new site spun off of Novaspace.com, one of the first sites on the World Wide Web. Founder Kim Poor, a space artist, was touring with his art at a Houston mall in 1986 when Apollo 12 astronaut and fourth moonwalker Alan Bean visited his art display and invited Kim to come to his home, not far from the mall. Bean had recently quit NASA and had embarked on an art career himself, (a lifelong dream) painting his own memories of Apollo. His tiny but elegant home ("2.5% smaller than Skylab") was largely an artist's studio.
Kim, who had been touring the country for a number of years, had been compiling an enviable mailing list of clients, a portfolio of world-class space art, and a lot of goodwill. He added Bean to his growing stable of space artists, which he would put in a small catalog and mail to his clients. Selling Alan's prints and posters, he quickly became Bean's largest dealer.
Alan was so impressed by Kim's business savvy and honesty that he recommended him to Gene Cernan, himself an Apollo moonwalker and neighbor. Cernan was trying to find someone to market some framed Apollo 17 photographs he inherited from a defunct company. Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 also called, offering some crew-signed prints, and flown patches. Both had been recently burned by unscrupulous dealers.
Kim's reputation spread amongst the small astronaut cadre as the go-to guy for astronaut memorabilia. He would invite astronauts to his gallery and then alert his formidable mailing list, who would send photos, books etc. to have signed. He would also get stock photos signed for gallery sales.
Thus Novaspace Galleries' catalog (and website) became filled with not only space art, but astronaut autographs and space memorabilia, a unique and eclectic mix. The catalog was divided into two, one for space art, and the other was titled Mostly Moonwalkers. The website was a more difficult problem; an enormous and cumbersome online gallery of images that was at times difficult to navigate and manage.
Although overlapping somewhat, a dichotomy developed where customers either wanted space art or astronaut stuff.
So, we decided to spinoff a dedicated website for our astronaut items. AstronautCentral.com is the place to get authentic astronaut autographs, many unobtainable anywhere else, since some sign exclusively for us.
We're located in Tucson, Arizona. We work out of a shop on the NW side and do everything here, inventory, packing, shipping, marketing, framing, webmaster-ing...That way we are in near-complete control of quality. We hope you enjoy the product!