In 2016 we are used hearing about new scientific leaps on a weekly basis. It seems every time we turn around there’s something new; be it a phone, a medication, or something out of the box like a new way to grow food or replace a lost leg. And with all this newness, this advancement, we have also grown accustomed to constantly re-forming our life around the new novelty.
But it’s been many, many years since a scientific leap has brought about a world-wide change, affected everyone, and ushered in a new perspective on life that couldn’t ever be taken back. Such a change occurred, seventy years ago, today. A simple change, but incredibly impactful.
The view of our home, Planet Earth, from space.
Now you have to remember, this photo was taken on a 35 millimeter camera. Celluloid. In space.
Because this story starts with Nazis.
V-2 rockets are a type of ballistic missile originally developed by the Nazis during World War II. Hitler had deployed them against Allied targets in London, Antwerp, and Liège causing thousands of deaths. In the final moments of the war, some of the key German rocket scientists working on the V-2 surrendered to the US, and some time after were snuck into the country in secret through Operation Paperclip.
These same scientists would help kickstart the American Space program.
The German rocket scientists brought with them their knowledge of the V-2, and in coordinance with the US, began launching the rockets into the air at higher and higher intervals. Eventually attaching a motion-picture camera that would capture the images that changed the world.
The rolls of film, which had to return to earth with the rocket, was protected from impact by steel cassettes which were found and returned by men on the ground.
Before that, the highest images ever captured were from a hot air balloon.
“[The scientists] were ecstatic, they were jumping up and down like kids.” Rulli told Air & Space magazine. “When they first projected [the photos] onto the screen, the scientists just went nuts.”
It may not seem like much, a black and white photo that only partially shows the earth and is even a bit grainy. But it was the first of its kind, a true testament to the advancement of the human race as a whole.
And we have never been the same since.