First view of Earth from space in October 1946

29 Oct

On October 24, 1946 – long before the cold war, space race, or even satellites – humanity gleaned its first view of home from orbital altitude:

The first photo from space was taken on October 24, 1946 atop a V2 rocket

The first photo from space was taken on October 24, 1946 atop a V2 rocket

This photo was taken using a 35mm television camera that was attached to a V2 rocket that was launched from New Mexico.

Following the end of World War 2, and the Allies capturing German technology, this rocket was used for science rather than destruction.

Here’s the original newsreel of this V2 flight from October 1946:

It’s important to note though that this image, while being the first from orbital altitude, is not the first image from orbit – since the V2 rocket in this flight never actually went into orbit. It simply went straight up – 105 km straight up – and then straight back down.

Nevertheless seeing our blue marble (or black and white marble, as the case may be) from such a perspective was an important milestone. Nowadays, a significant number of our satellites are actually pointed back down towards Earth, and astronauts aboard the International Space Station spend a significant amount of their time likewise observing Earth.

This perspective is a meaningful one and helps us to better understand how our planet actually works. For more on this, check out an awesome website: The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, hosted by NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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