Seventy Years Ago, Humans Saw Earth from Space for the First Time


First photo of Earth from space, taken October 24, 1946. Image: US Army/White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory
First photo of Earth from space, taken October 24, 1946. Image: US Army/White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory
The view of Earth from outer space has utterly transformed perspectives on our civilization, our planet, and our relationship to the universe beyond our skies. This Monday marks the 70th anniversary of the day we first saw the planet from this extraordinary, quasi-alien vantagepoint; a pivotal event that occurred on October 24, 1946, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Von Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Snapped from an altitude of 65 miles by a Devry 35-millimeter motion picture camera, the black-and-white image captures the Earth’s curvature and the sweep of cloud cover over the American Southwest.

The camera was mounted on a V-2 rocket, a Nazi-developed series of long-range ballistic missiles that Hitler had deployed against Allied targets in London, Antwerp, and Liège during World War II, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

In the final months of the war, American forces accepted the surrender of key German rocket scientists, including Wernher von Braun, who later became the architect of the Saturn V Apollo Program rockets. These spaceflight experts immigrated to the United States in secret under Operation Paperclip, and they brought dozens of their V-2 rockets with them to help kickstart the American space program.

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