Contrary to popular belief, the first man-made object to enter space was not Sputnik. An amazing factoid considering that the space race was a major battleground in the Cold-War between the Soviets and America. Oddly, very little information about these first rockets into space can be found almost anywhere. One of the best references is this article from Air & Space magazine’s web site. The article is centers around the fact that, in addition to being one of the first man-made objects in space (the first was actually German!), the V2s also returned the first images of Earth from space.
On October 24, 1946, a V2 rocket was blasted off from White Sands Missile Range and climbed about 65 miles straight up. There it began snapping images until minutes later it fell back to Earth with no parachutes. The cannister containing the camera was smashed, but luckily the film itself was unharmed and was later developed revealing to us Earthlings a glimpse of our own world from higher up than we had ever seen before.
While the above image is fascinating enough… that image was shot on V2 #13 and later experiments also took cameras along for the ride. Considering how long ago these were taken, another image from V2 #21 taken in 1947 is even more impressive in its detail and clarity.