Like anyone embarking on an exotic trip, astronaut John Glenn wanted to take photos of his upcoming journey in 1962. None of NASA’s equipment was really designed for making pretty pictures, though, so Glenn bought a drugstore camera and got some technicians to modify it for orbit. The dozen or so pictures he took showed the curvature of Earth, the blackness of space and a spectacular sunset.
A few missions later, when Wally Schirra (pictured here) blasted into a six-orbit flight, he took along his own camera, an expensive Swedish-made Hasselblad, favored by wedding and magazine photographers at the time. Gordon Cooper took the same camera on his 1963 spaceflight. The photos they captured had razor-sharp views of our home planet and the cosmos. Soon after, many astronauts started using the company’s cameras, creating a record of stunning images.