Fifty years ago, NASA’S Lunar Orbiter 1 captured the very first image of the Earth from the moon’s orbit.
The photo was sent to Earth by the unmanned robotic spacecraft and was received at the tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain.
According to NASA, the image was captured during the spacecraft’s 16th orbit.
Lunar Orbiter 1, the first spacecraft left Earth on August 10, 1966, and after 92 hours, it was orbiting the moon.
According to NASA, the Lunar Orbiter 1 – built by The Boeing Co., was launched on an Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It was mainly designed to take photographs of smooth areas of the Moon’s surface, which would help to select landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions, later launched by NASA.
Jay Friedlander, who started his NASA career 25 years ago as a photographic technician working on images including those from the Lunar Orbiter in a report said, “The camera system itself took up at least a third of the spacecraft.”
As per Space.com report, the image of the Eath was not planned, it “only came up after the mission was already in operation.”
“If you turned the spacecraft maybe it wouldn’t turn back again. You don’t want to mess with a working spacecraft if you don’t have to,” report added.
Initially, there were debates, that changing the satellite position would bring danger to the orbiter’s main objective but NASA finally decided to take picture of our planet.
Thereby after lot of considerations, on August 23, 1966, “the spacecraft successfully took a photo of an earthrise, the blue planet rising above the moon’s horizon,” reports Space.com.