On this day…
After the end of World War II on October 24, 1946 and a good while before the Sputnik satellite opened the space age, a group of soldiers and scientists in the New Mexico desert saw something new and wonderful—the first pictures of Earth as seen from space.
The White Sands rocket (official name V-2 No. 13) was the first man-made object to take a photograph of the Earth from outer space. Launched from the White Sands Missile Range in White Sands, New Mexico, the rocket reached a maximum altitude of 107.5 miles (173 km), well above the commonly accepted boundary of space at 100 kilometres.
The famous photograph was taken from an altitude of 65 miles (104 km) with an attached 35 mm black-and-white camera.
Snapping a new frame every second and a half, the rocket-borne camera climbed straight up, then fell back to Earth minutes later, slamming into the ground at 500 feet per second. The camera itself was smashed, but the film, protected in a steel cassette, was unharmed.
It was one of many firsts for the V-2 research program of the late 1940s, during which the Army fired dozens of captured German missiles brought to White Sands in 300 railroad cars at the end of the war. While the missileers used the V-2s to refine their own rocket designs, scientists were invited to pack instruments inside the nosecone to study temperatures, pressures, magnetic fields and other physical characteristics of the unexplored upper atmosphere.
|Earth from Space in colour|
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