Collection Item Summary:
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.
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- United States of America