First photograph of an entire subcontinent from space: India from record breaking high altitude orbit.

Space Mission
Gemini XI, 12-15 September 1966

Richard Gordon

Photo Description
Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based Kodak paper, 25.3 x 20.5 cm (10 x 8 in), [NASA photo no S-66-54677], with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation stamp and Id number, and A KODAK PAPER watermarks on verso

A stunning and majestic view of the entire subcontinent of India looking north northeast, Ceylon, Maldive Islands, Arabian Sea left, Bay of Bengal right seen from an altitude of 380 nautical miles in this photograph taken with the Hasselblad SuperWide camera and its 38mm lens.

Gemini XI rose farther above the Earth’s surface on September 14, 1966, than men ever had gone before. The astronauts first realized how high they were when the whole subcontinent of India came into view. Commander Conrad was so impressed by “how small the world is” that the sight will always be one of his sharpest memories of the flight. When photographed, India’s whole coast was nearly cloudless. A small low-pressure system lay in the north, the wind was toward the shore on all coasts, and there for India’s people it was a pleasant sea breeze. (NASA SP-171, pg. 121)

“The photographs I remember best from Gemini XI were those taken during the high-altitude portion of the flight. We were in two revs going from a low point of about 160 nautical miles all the way up to 740 over Australia. I particularly remember that very famous one of the subcontinent of India in its entirety.”

—Richard Gordon (Schick and Van Haaften, pg. 80)

“This picture has been asked for almost as frequently as the full disk of the Earth. It was framed the way a painter would frame it.”

—Les Gaver, former photography director, NASA Public Affairs (Schick and Van Haaften, pg. 80)