Collection Item Summary:
With this camera, a Leica 1g model, astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr.,carried out the first human-operated, astronomical experiment in space during his pioneering mission on February 20, 1962. On his first orbit, in darkness over the Pacific, Glenn took six ultraviolet spectrographic photos of stars in the constellation Orion with this camera. Equipped with a quartz lens and prism to form the star images into spectra, the camera imaged ultraviolet light that is blocked from view on Earth by the atmosphere.
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 reticle on top. To stabilize the camera, he closed his helmet visor and placed the recticle against the visor, cushioned using a small piece of blue rubber.
NASA transferred this camera to the Smithsonian in 1963 with a group of Glenn artifacts.