Amateur Photographer

The first camera on the moon

Strange as it might now seem, during the early days of space exploration, photography wasn't considered important. The first man in space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who circled the Earth during a 108-minute flight on12 April1961. A weird stop-motion series of pictures of Gagarin during the flight have survived, but sights seen through the window of his spacecraft were never recorded.

That same year Project Mercury, America's first human spaceflight programme, administered by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), took Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom on the first sub-orbital flights. Cameras were on board only to document instrument readings.

First cameras in space

The following year Colonel John Glenn made the first American orbital flight in space, leaving the Earth's atmosphere and circling the planet three times. Although a major landmark in the American space programme, the only cameras on board were a Leica, supplied by NASA, and a modified Ansco Autoset, which Glenn bought at a local drug store.

The Autoset was a simple, non-reflex, 35mm camera with manual and automatic exposure. For its trip into space, the camera was stripped back to its bare metal, a pistol grip was attached to the top with

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