Ever since NASA established its history program in 1959, the agency has periodically compiled the world's aeronautics advances into a single report. Assembled mostly from press releases and news stories, the documents recount coverage of budget negotiations alongside milestones like the shuttle program and the moon landing. Data illustrators at the Office for Creative Research distilled the trove of reports from 11,000 pages and 4.9 million words into just over 4,000 discrete phrases. Their illustration charts the frequency of some of the most important terms, colored by topic and arranged by time, and presents a new view of how NASA took humanity to the stars.

Explore the graphic with your mouse: zoom in and out with the scroll wheel; click and drag to pan; and click on the words that appear in white to see the terms in the original historical reports. Need more pixels? View the piece full-screen. And read more about the illustrators' process in a companion post.

A phrasal history of aerospace. Source: NASA History Program Office; additional data from the New York Times (for relative importance of keywords). Data analysis and visualization by the Office for Creative Research.