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NASA flashback takes you 850 miles above Earth in 1966

Back in 1966, a NASA spacecraft carried people far above the Earth's surface, setting a new altitude record and giving us a gorgeous view of the planet below.

The record-setting view from Gemini XI.

NASA/Dick Gordon

Nearly a week after the very first "Star Trek" episode aired on TV in 1966, real-life NASA astronauts set a new space record on board the Gemini XI. They caught a very special moment from the journey on film, and the space agency revisited the landmark event, which happened 50 years ago Wednesday, as part of its Image of the Day series.

The photo shows the cloud-streaked western half of Australia and part of the Gemini spacecraft from the point of view of 850 miles (1,370 kilometers) above Earth. It was a momentous occasion at the time, one that NASA refers to as "record-shattering altitude." Gemini X set the previous altitude record at 475 miles (765 kilometers) earlier in the year.

NASA was still several years away from landing a man on the moon, but the Gemini missions were part of the ladder that got us there. Gemini XI pilot Dick Gordon snapped the picture.

NASA quotes command pilot Charles "Pete" Conrad as saying, "We have the whole southern part of the world out one window. Utterly fantastic."