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“That wasn’t planned originally…”

45 years ago, Lunar Orbiter 1 took our first picture of home.


…at some point during the Lunar Orbiter 1’s mission, NASA contemplated pointing the spacecraft’s camera at Earth.

“That wasn’t planned originally,” said Williams. “That only came up after the mission was already in operation.”

Williams said that repositioning the satellite was a high risk maneuver. “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.”

But there was a debate about whether they should even attempt this at all. In the end, Williams said that NASA decided it wanted the picture, and would not blame anyone if something went wrong during the repositioning maneuver.

So on August 23, the spacecraft successfully took a photo of an earthrise, the blue planet rising above the moon’s horizon.

Image credits: NASA, and thanks to @arielwaldman for pointing the anniversary out…

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