The First Photo From Space


Photo: White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory - via Smithsonian's Air & Space

The grainy black and white photo above was the very first photo from space. It was taken from an altitude of 65 miles by a 35 mm camera aboard a V-2 rocket on October 24, 1946.

The US military launched dozens of these V-2 rockets, captured from the Germans at the end of World War II, from the White Sands Missile Range. They wanted to learn about how to build their own rockets, but invited scientists to hitch along instruments to study the Earth's upper atmosphere while they're launching them anyway.

Before this, the highest photo of Earth ever taken was from the 1935 Explorer II balloon, which went up 13.7 miles (the Kármán line of 100 km or 62 miles is considered the boundary of outer space).


The famous "The Blue Marble" photo of Earth/NASA Johnson Space Center

The first photograph from space that captured Earth in full view was taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft as they left Earth's orbit to fly to the Moon. The three astronauts aboard the spacecraft took turns taking photos, and no one knew for sure who took the photo above. We do know that astronaut Eugene Cernan said "I know we're not the first to discover this - but we'd like to confirm, from the crew of America, that the world is round."

NASA archivist Mike Gentry later remarked that the iconic image, dubbed "The Blue Marble," is the most widely distributed image in human history.


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