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Camera, Leica, 35mm, Glenn, Friendship 7

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This object is on display in the Apollo to the Moon exhibition at the National Mall building.


Manufacturer: Leica

Country of Origin: Germany

Dimensions: 3-D: 14 x 13.3 x 16.5cm (5 1/2 x 5 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.)
3-D (Lens): 9.5 x 5.1cm (3 3/4 x 2 in.)

Materials: Metal, glass, plastic, velcro

With this camera, a Leica Ig 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.

Because Glenn was wearing a spacesuit helmet and could not get his eye close to a built-in viewfinder, NASA selected a this high-quality camera that allowed them to attach a customized sight 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 with a group of Glenn artifacts.

Transferred from NASA

Inventory number: A19670197000

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