On this day in 1966 the automated spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first picture of the Earth from the distance of the Moon. This photographic milestone in the history of space flight was part of a series of missions intended to take high resolution images of the lunar surface for the purpose of selecting landing sights for the upcoming lunar surface missions.
Launched on August 10, 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 remained in orbit until it was deliberately de-orbited to impact the far side of the Moon on October 29th. This decision was made due to low reserves of control gas and concerns over potential transmission interference with the upcoming Lunar Orbiter 2 mission.
The amazing imagery from the five Lunar Orbiter missions was recently restored from the original magnetic tapes as part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). This project was started in part so the images could be compared with images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
More information on this project to preserve part of our space history can be found at the official site for the LOIRP http://www.moonviews.com/.