NASA has paid tribute to its first senior photographer, Bill Taub, who has died aged 86.

Bill, who retired in 1975, is credited as having recorded every significant event in NASA?s history following its formation in 1958 when he was granted exclusive access to the lives of the agency?s first seven astronauts.

In 1969, Bill – who was ‘self-taught’ – was assigned to capture moments both before and after the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

He captured behind-the-scenes shots – such as engineering meetings conducted behind closed doors – as well as more well known publicity material.

When the astronauts returned to earth as heroes, Bill followed them as they embarked on a world tour that saw them visit 27 cities in 24 countries in 45 days.

The late Alan Shepard (pictured below), who became the first American in space in 1961, said in a NASA video: ?We were really pioneering in so many ways, even the training exercises, there was tension and I think Bill captured that? he was a member of the family for over 30 years.?

Paying tribute to Bill, the agency said: ?As NASA?s first senior photographer, Bill Taub covered every major agency event from the beginning of the Mercury project through to the end of Apollo.?

In a 2006 interview Bill said: ?I had the privilege to be there to record it. I made sure I recorded it to the best of my ability because I have a sense of history.?

In the 1940s and 50s Bill worked as a wind-tunnel photographer where he used his large-format 8×10 camera to document aeronautical research.

Alan Shepard

Picture: Bill’s portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut in space

Credit: NASA: Photo by Bill Taub

Apollo 4 mission

Picture: Launch of the unmanned Apollo 4, a rocket that would eventually take humans to the moon

Credit: NASA: Photo by Bill Taub

Bill Taub portrait

Picture: Photographer Bill Taub has a blood test before photographing the Apollo 11 astronauts, in keeping with NASA’s ‘semi-quarantine’ rules

Credit: NASA