With this camera, an Ansco Autoset model, astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., took the first human-shot, color still photographs of the Earth during his three-orbit mission on February 20, 1962. (Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov had made pioneering movie footage during his one-day flight in August 1961.) Glenn's pictures paved the way for future Earth photography experiments on American human spaceflight missions.
For ease of use by Glenn, NASA technicians attached a pistol grip handle and trigger to this commercial 35-mm camera, which is upside down from its normal orientation. Because Glenn was wearing a spacesuit helmet and could not get his eye close to a built-in viewfinder, NASA engineers attached a larger viewfinder on top. Glenn found the camera easy to use, in part because he could exploit zero-gravity's advantages. "When I needed both hands, I just let go of the camera and it floated there in front of me," he said in his later memoir.
NASA transferred this camera to the Smithsonian in 1963.
Transferred from NASA