BLUF

The USA used a WW2 Nazi Germany V2 rocket to take the first picture of the earth from space.

Summary

Nazi Germany's V2 Vengeance Rockets, developed at the end of WW2, were expensive and ineffective when used to attack the UK. They did, however, launch the space race and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

Key points:

  • The first high altitude (13 miles) photos were taken in 1935 from a balloon.
  • WW2 German rocket technology was ahead of the Allies.
  • The US and Soviets acquired as many V2's as possible for research after Germany's surrender.
  • The US Army and Navy, General ElectricApplied Physics Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory trialled attaching cameras and scientific instruments to V2 rockets.
  • Without parachutes, payloads needed armoured casings to survive the landing.
  • GPS hadn't been invented yet, so recovery took time.
  • Using a B29 Superfortress bomber fire control system, in 1946, the first photo was taken from space (65 miles).
  • The photo inspired scientists worldwide to think about how camera-equipped rockets could be developed to orbitthe beginning of satellites.
  • Due to the V2, space travel was now considered a possibility.