First American TV picture from space: Cloud cover over Central Florida

Space Mission
Mercury Atlas 9, May 15-16, 1963, orbit 18

Taken by a slow scan TV camera on board the Faith 7 spacecraft

Photo Description
Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), with NASA MSC caption on the verso, numbered “NASA S-63-7859” in black in top margin

Cooper, passing over the Florida area on his 18th orbit, placed his capsule television camera to the window of Faith 7 to flash this view back to Earth. It was recorded on a monitor screen at Cape Canaveral. The camera’s two-second slow scan rate required special equipment which was set up at Cape Canaveral.

“It took a great, tremendous physical conditioning process to get the (TV) camera out of the bracket and get the other lens on it prior to photographing out the window. I got one period of pictures out the window over Florida that was exceptionally good. In one, it was ideal weather, ideal view, and everything, however, they weren’t getting anything at all. […] If the thing had worked correctly, it would have been nice to have been able to shoot out the window at some of these fantastic views you see around Florida […] to show the ground what you’re seeing. That would have been the biggest advantage of it. I gather, based on what limited information I have now, that we got one or two successful pictures of this type,” said Gordon Cooper following the mission (Pilot Report).

From the mission transcript at the end of the 18th orbit:
028:17:07 Capcom: Faith Seven, this is Cape. – We would like to see your TV returns, over.
028:17:12 Cooper: Roger. I’ve got her on. […]
028:19:53 Cooper Are you getting any TV yet?
028:19:57 Capcom: I think the light is low inside there, Gordo.
028:20:01 Cooper: I ‘m outside. […]
028:20:42 Cooper: I’m directly over Miami. I’m looking right down on Miami Beach.