First Photo of Earth from Space

I happen to be looking around for the earliest images ever taken of the Earth, and believe it or not these were snapped by captured V2 rockets back in Oct, 1946 at White Sands
Missile Range.
In the archive file below presented by Air & Space I caught an interesting comment made from then camera engineer Clyde Holliday (JH Physics Laboratory) in 1950 for National Geographic. He was certainly part of the team that made up the White Sands Missile Range testing of V2 rocket experiments that would have fit the time frame of July 07, 1947 or the time of hypo-incident crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft in Roswell NM. I found then found a related adobe file written for JAMES ALFRED VAN ALLEN that somewhat corroborates the timeline of those V2 rocket high altitude launches, dates ranging from around July, 47. I am curious as to why an engineer employed by an institution like John's Hopkins Applied Physics under contract for the Army would then have made such comments to a National Geographic ??
Before 1946, the highest pictures ever taken of the Earthís surface were from the Explorer II balloon, which had ascended 13.7 miles in 1935, high enough to discern the curvature of the Earth. The V-2 cameras reached more than five times that altitude, where they clearly showed the planet set against the blackness of space. When the movie frames were stitched together, the panoramas taken in the late 1940s covered a million square miles or more at a single glance.
As Clyde Holliday, the engineer who developed the camera, wrote in National Geographic in 1950, the V-2 photos showed for the first time "how our Earth would look to visitors from another planet coming in on a space ship."
1946 January 16 - Launch Vehicle: V-2. V-2 flight tests in US initiated. U.S. upper atmosphere research program initiated with captured German V-2 rockets. A V-2 panel of representatives of various interested agencies was created, and a total of more than 60 V-2's were fired before the supply ran out. The Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University then undertook to develop a medium-altitude rocket, the Aerobee, while the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) directed its efforts to the development of a large high-altitude rocket, first called the Neptune, later the Viking.
JAMES ALFRED VAN ALLEN FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO THE BEGINNING OF THE SPACE ERA A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH George H. Ludwig Prepared for Van Allenís 90th Birthday Celebration At the University of Iowa 9 October 2004
The V-2 and Aerobee Programs at the Applied Physics Laboratory
At the conclusion of the war, Van Allen had a number of discussions with Tuve about his interest in resuming peacetime research. They led to Van Allenís return to the APL in late 1945. Upon his arrival, he organized the High Altitude Research Group with a talented group of researchers including Lawrence W. Fraser, Clyde Holliday, John Hopfield, Robert Peterson, Howard Tatel, and several others. He supervised this group from its formation in 1946 until his departure from APL in late 1950.
Not long after his return to APL, he was told by staff member Henry H. Porter about the Army Ordnance Departmentís plans for using captured German V-2 rockets for high altitude research. On 16 January 1946, he met with a group of scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). This meeting was an outgrowth of ongoing internal NRL discussions to decide upon a major post-war research topic.
Acting upon the suggestion of NRLís Milton W. Rosen, Ernest H. Krauseís Communications Security Section decided to apply its wartime experience with missiles and communications to the study of the upper atmosphere. This was approved by NRLís director in December 1945, and the sectionís name was changed to the Rocket Sonde Research Section. Interestingly, this groupís initial period of self-education in the needs, techniques, and nuances of upper atmospheric research included discussions about the use of artificial Earth satellites.
Homer Newell gave several lectures dealing with that possibility. However, that objective was set aside then because of its expected high cost and the long time required to reach it. The NRL group concluded that their initial efforts needed to be concentrated on more immediate results. At APL, Van Allenís group soon developed plans for a comprehensive program to measure the primary cosmic rays, solar ultraviolet spectrum, geomagnetic field in the ionosphere, and the altitude distribution of ozone in the upper atmosphere. Thus, both APL and NRL concurrently formulated somewhat similar programs. They quickly became both collaborators and competitors.
In addition to the areas just mentioned, magnetic field measurements well above the Earthís surface were of considerable interest. The APL group maintained a close collaboration with Ernest H. Vestine at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and with Allen Maxwell at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory to develop flux-gate magnetometers to make these measurements. Additionally, there was an interest in optical and infrared imaging from the high atmosphere for the study of atmospheric conditions and patterns, and Clyde T. Holliday of the APL group undertook the development of recoverable cameras for that purpose.
One of the important outcomes of the January 1946 meeting between the APL and NRL staffs was the formation of an unofficial group of scientists that initially called itself the ďV-2 Rocket Panel.Ē This name was soon changed to the ďV-2 Upper Atmosphere Panel.Ē It began its work immediately, holding its first formal meeting on 27 January 1946 with Krause as its energetic and effective first chairman. The groupís initial role was to help plan for the effective utilization of the V-2 flights for research. Because of Van Allenís strong interest in high-altitude research, his experience with rockets, and his familiarity with very rugged miniature vacuum tubes and circuitry, he was included as a valued charter member of that Panel.
When Krause left for industry in December 1947, Van Allen was elected to chair the group. He continued as its chairman throughout the rest of its lifetime (through additional name changes to the ďV-2 Upper Atmosphere Research PanelĒ in September 1946, the ďUpper Atmosphere Rocket Research PanelĒ in March 1948, and the ďRocket and Satellite Research Panel in April 1957Ē). When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed on 1 October 1958, some of the Panelís functions were taken over by that new agency, and the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences assumed others. Nevertheless, the Panel continued for several additional years as sponsor of a series of colloquia. It finally simply quit operating in 1960, and turned its files over to the Smithsonian Institutionís National Air and Space Museum. A full set of the minutes and other records of the group was retained by Van Allen, and is now available as a part of the James A. Van Allen Special Collection at the University of Iowa Library Archives.
This group is emphasized here because of its tremendous importance in overseeing the selection of experiments for rocket and satellite flights from 1946 until after NASA was formed in 1958, and in recognition of Van Allenís pivotal role in the conduct of its work.
The program for American scientists to provide instruments for the V-2 program was initially envisioned as a very short program of only five-monthís duration, encompassing about 25 launches. It was later extended, in both duration and number of launches, to encompass the flights of a substantial number of instruments prepared by Van Allen and many others. At the same time the flights were being made, the scientists recognized that they would need a launch vehicle to continue their high-altitude scientific research after the V-2 program ended. The Upper Atmosphere Research Panel served as the focal point for efforts to meet that need. Merle Tuve and Henry Porter at APL suggested that a follow-up development take place, and Van Allen, from his position as head of the APL High Altitude Research Group, undertook a survey of U.S. efforts that might result in suitable rockets for high-altitude research.
He was greatly assisted in this study by Rolf Sabersky of what had by then become the Aerojet Engineering Corporation, a company spawned by the west coast Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Concurrently, a similar interest was unfolding at NRL. These two endeavors led to a rocket development proposal from Aerojet, followed by contracts in early 1947 with Aerojet and the Douglas Aircraft Company. Van Allen provided technical supervision, serving as the agent of the Navyís Bureau of Ordinance that provided the financial support for the work. The outcome of this contract was the Aerobee sounding rocket.
The Aerobee achieved a remarkable record in U.S. suborbital high- altitude research.7 Its initial test firing occurred on 25 September 1947, followed quickly by the first successful launch of an instrumented payload on 24 November 1947. By 1951, thirty Aerobees had been launched, and during the ten-year period from September 1947 to September 1957, 165 Aerobees were launched from the Armyís White Sands Proving Ground, the Air Forceís nearby Holloman Air Development Center, Fort Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, and from shipboard at sea. As of 17 January 1985, a total of 1037 Aerobees had been fired for a wide variety of investigations in atmospheric physics, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, astronomy, and other fields. Most of the successful Aerobee research flights achieved peak altitudes between 40 and 65 miles, depending on payload weight and other factors. The record height of over 91 miles was achieved by U.S. Air Force flight number 56 on 15 June 1955.
Returning to the early research program in Van Allenís High Altitude Research Group; with some urging by Harry Vestine, a student of Sydney Chapman at Oxford University, Van Allenís group undertook a search for the equatorial electrojet in 1947. This phenomenon had been inferred by Chapman and Julius Bartels at Oxford from ground-based magnetometer records. A three-axis fluxgate magnetometer of a type in use at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory looked promising for this work, and Van Allen, S. Fred Singer, and Lawrence Fraser adapted it for flight in the Aerobee rockets. The first flight trial of this instrument was made at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico on 13 April 1948, where the rocket soared to a height of 70 miles. The magnetometer obtained good measurements throughout the flight, thus validating the instrument design, although, of course, the electrojet was not observable that far north.
With this successful test, a major field expedition was undertaken the following year. It culminated in March 1949 in the launch of three Aerobees near the magnetic equator off the coast of Peru from the deck of the USS Norton Sound. This expedition achieved a number of important firsts. It provided the first U.S. flights of high-altitude sounding rockets at any location other than White Sands. It was the first launch from shipboard, thus paving the way for numerous ship-based sounding rocket and rockoon flights over the next decade. On one of the early flights, the magnetometer yielded the signature of at least a partial penetration of the electrojet in the altitude range 58 to 65 miles.8
Van Allenís tenure at the Applied Physics Laboratory from 1946 to 1951 covered a highly productive period.The work of that laboratory was an important component of a larger national effort in high altitude research which, over the years, made substantial advances in understanding atmospheric structure, ionospheric physics, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, the ultraviolet and x-ray spectra of the sun, and in high altitude photography of cloud cover and the Earthís surface. This extensive effort included the development of rockets, instruments, methodologies, and organizational structures for high altitude research that served as the foundation for the movement into space during the decade of the 1950ís. Fundamental changes began to occur within the Applied Physics Laboratory in 1950 when R. C. Gibson replaced Merle Tuve as its director. Among other things, Van Allen was asked to pick up supervision of the residual proximity fuse work in addition to his groupís work in high altitude research. He accepted this task, but interpreted it as foreshadowing a decrease in emphasis on high altitude research, and a shifting away from the freewheeling spirit that had marked their work up to that time. He began to ponder his future prospects for productive research in his chosen field of interest within that organization.
By this point in his career, Van Allen had established an international reputation in upper-atmospheric physics research. His background became especially important as the space program slowly began to take shape, and Van Allenís name appeared with increasing frequency during its early planning. It is notable that, throughout his period at APL, Van Allen was able to combine responsibility for a broad span of supervisory and managerial duties with his personal research, a valuable and remarkably rare ability that he was to continue throughout his professional career.
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