You are here

Camera, Rocket-Borne


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Looking at Earth exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

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.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

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


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


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

Country of Origin

United States of America


SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Instruments & Payloads

Inventory Number