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Color photograph of North Africa from space, taken by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 spacecraft during NASA's Project Mercury MA-6 mission, Feb. 20, 1962
Color photograph of North Africa from space, taken by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 spacecraft during NASA's Project Mercury MA-6 mission, Feb. 20, 1962John Glenn Archives—The Ohio State University
Color photograph of North Africa from space, taken by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 spacecraft during NASA's Project Mercury MA-6 mission, Feb. 20, 1962
Color photograph of North Africa from space, taken by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 spacecraft during NASA's Project Me
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John Glenn Archives—The Ohio State University
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John Glenn: The Photo That Influenced Me Most

Nov 17, 2016

To celebrate the launch of TIME's new multimedia project – 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time – we asked leaders in a number of fields, from technology to the arts to business, to share the single photograph that most influenced their lives. Purchase the 100 Photographs book now.

This picture is to the best of my knowledge the first hand-held camera picture ever taken from space. I took it during the first orbit of my Friendship 7 flight on February 20, 1962, during the early stages of our first effort to accomplish manned orbital flight. NASA knew that pictures from orbit were an important part of showing the public the beauty of space, as well as the importance of exploring it. The camera I used was a very simple Minolta Hi-Matic, which was one of the first of the automatic cameras.

John Glenn is a World War II pilot, Senator and the first American to orbit the Earth.

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