Pictures of Earth from space had been taken before, by rockets in the 1940s, and satellites in the 1950s and 1960s. However, those pictures captured just parts of Earth, as opposed to a full-on view of the planet. In the summer of 1966, the United States was preparing to send the first humans to the moon. NASA needed high resolution pictures of the surface to make sure this is something they could land on and pick out landing sites. NASA could call upon off-the-shelf technology: Boeing and Eastman Kodak had previously developed a spacecraft with an onboard camera system for the Department of Defense.
The first spacecraft, Lunar Orbiter 1, left Earth on August 10, 1966. It was like a flying photography lab. The camera system itself took up at least a third of the spacecraft. The Lunar Orbiter camera contained dual lenses, taking photos at the same time. One lens took wide-angle images at medium resolution. A second lens took high-resolution images yielding details as small as 5 meters in size. The camera had big honking reels of 70 mm film. The film would roll through, the camera would take pictures, and then move the exposed film to an automated developer. The automated film developer contained a mix of chemicals that would develop the film using a process similar to the method used by Polaroid cameras. An electron beam would then scan each developed image before transmitting the photos back to Earth using radio signals.
But at some point during the mission, NASA contemplated pointing the spacecraft’s camera at Earth. Repositioning the satellite was a high risk maneuver. But NASA decided to take the risk. So on August 23, the spacecraft successfully took a photo of an earthrise, the blue planet rising above the moon’s horizon. NASA took the image and created a poster of it which was given as gifts to everybody. Senators and congressmen would give it out as presents to constituents and visiting dignitaries.
In 1916 William Boeing and Navy engineer Conrad Westervelt founded the Pacific Aero Products Company in Seattle, and they built the B&W seaplane. When one year later Westervelt was recalled to active service in World War I, the company was renamed to the Boeing Airplane Company. During World War I the company manufactured aircraft for Navy training and patrol. Next to building airplanes the company at first also exploited an airline, and in 1919 they started the first international postal line between Seattle and Victoria in British Columbia. In 1927 Boeing built its first commercial airplane, the Model 40. In 1929 Boeing merged with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, and they founded the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. Its growth was spectacular and it subsequently purchased several regional airlines, and in 1931 it was renamed to United Air Lines. But in 1934 they had to deal with federal antitrust actions and were required to split up the company into three different companies; the Boeing Airplane Company, Pratt & Whitney and United Airlines.
During World War II Boeing produced hundreds of the B-17 Flying Fortress, that became the main U.S. bomber. This airplane was cherished by the pilots, because even half shot to pieces it would still manage to remain in the air and safely return. By 1944 the Seattle factory produced sixteen B-17 aircraft per day! Another aircraft was the B-29 bomber, the most famous of which was the Enola Gay, that carried the first atomic bomb to Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. It was followed in 1952 by the B-52 bomber. In 1958 it brought out the 707, which would prove to be a huge commercial success, and this model was succeeded by the 727, the 737 and the 747. In 1979 it extended to the 767, in 1990 to the 777. Its most recent offspring is the new 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft, and it controls more than half of the market for jet aircraft, next to military jets and helicopters, missile systems and space technology. Boing is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value.
The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range twinjet narrow-body airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engined airliner derived from Boeing’s 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers. The 737 is Boeing’s only narrow-body airliner in production, with the -600, -700, -800, and -900ER variants currently being built. A re-engined and redesigned version, the 737 MAX, is set to debut in 2017.
Originally envisioned in 1964, the initial 737-100 flew in 1967 and entered airline service in February 1968. Next, the lengthened 737-200 entered service in April 1968. In the 1980s Boeing launched the -300, -400, and -500 models, subsequently referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic series. The 737 Classics added capacity and incorporated CFM56 turbofan engines along with wing improvements. In the 1990s Boeing introduced the 737 Next Generation with multiple changes including a redesigned wing, upgraded cockpit, and new interior. The 737 Next Generation comprises the four -600, -700, -800, and -900ER models, ranging from 102 ft to 138 ft in length. Boeing Business Jet versions of the 737 Next Generation are also produced.
The 737 series is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. The 737 has been continuously manufactured by Boeing since 1967 with 7,865 aircraft delivered and 3,680 orders yet to be fulfilled as of December 2013.