Little Bits of History

The Blue Planet

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2010

August 23, 1966: The first picture of the Earth as seen from the Moon is radioed back from Lunar Orbiter I. The photograph came back from the robotic, unmanned spacecraft showing lunar moonscape in the foreground with a small half disk of Earth in the background – about 236,000 miles distant.

First view of Earth from the Moon

The Lunar Orbiter Program was a series of five unmanned spacecraft operating between August 10, 1966 and August 18, 1967. The purpose of the program was to map the lunar surface in order to find advantageous areas for the Surveyor and Apollo landings. This first mission sent back 42 high resolution and 187 medium resolution photographs, covering 3 million square miles of the moon’s surface.

Lunar Orbiter 2 was launched November 6, 1966 and made 2,346 orbits of the Moon over 339 days. Orbiter 3 was launched the next February 5 and the mission lasted 246 days and made 1,702 orbits. The next mission launched May 4, 1967 with a mission lasting 180 days and making 360 orbits. The last mission, Lunar Orbiter 5 was sent up on August 1 and lasted 183 days orbiting the satellite 1,380 times.

The five spacecraft sent back 2,180 high resolution and 882 medium resolution frames covering 99% of the lunar surface and cost about $200 million. Lunar photography from NASA started on May 9, 1959 from a Vega rocket which sent back 20 photos. Looking for a clear place to land future rockets continued. Eastman Kodak provided the photography equipment to Boeing, the contractor building the spaceships. Kodak had developed a Bimat process that allowed for “dry” processing of film and clearer pictures.

“I believe this nation should commit itself to achieveing the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” John F. Kennedy

“The first year after [President John] Kennedy announced the Apollo program, the NASA budget was doubled,” – Bill Nelson

“They met the challenge. They met it beautifully. The energy that flowed through NASA at that time, the excitement, the adrenaline, it all stemmed from the fact that space had become very crucial to the nation’s reputation and strength in the world.” – Andrew Chaikin

“If we did not have such a thing as an airplane today, we would probably create something the size of N.A.S.A. to make one.” – H. Ross Perot

Also on this day, in 1948 the World Council of Churches is founded.

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