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Camera, Rocket-Borne

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This object is on display in the Looking at Earth exhibition at the National Mall building.


Manufacturer: General Electric, Missile & Space Division

Country of Origin: United States of America

Dimensions: Overall: 2 1/2 in high x 6 in. wide x 10 in. deep (6.4 x 15.2 x 25.4cm)

Materials: Box: Magnesium Film reel: Textilite Gears, shafts etc: .aluminum, chrome steel Lens collar:Teflon w/polyurethane foam for protection

Developed jointly by General Electric and ACR Electronics, this camera was the first to provide pictures of the Earth's surface from outer space and the first to provide pictures of a launch vehicle falling away from a payload. On 12 May 1959, the camera was carried in a special capsule atop a Thor rocket from Cape Canaveral to an altitude of 350 miles and a distance of over 1,500 miles. Fifteen minutes after launch the capsule and camera were recovered after splashing down in the Atlantic. Operating at the slow speed of 5 frames per second, the camera provided 35 feet of 16 mm. motion picture film. It was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by General Electric in 1961.

Gift of the Missile and Space Division of the General Electric Company.

Inventory number: A19610143000

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