Captain Albert Stevens

Albert Stevens is credited with taking the first photograph showing earth's curvature. The picture was taken in 1936 from a balloon, it showed the troposphere-stratosphere boundary and the actual curvature of the earth.

He took off on November 11, 1935, from the Stratobowl near Rapid City, South Dakota, aboard the Explorer II. He ascended to a world record altitude of 22,066 km (72,395 ft). The chamber was constructed using a magnesium aluminum alloy and was pressure tested at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Stevens was the chief of the Army Air Corps photography lab at Wright Field, Ohio. The photographs of South Dakota and surrounding states taken from high altitude demonstrated the potential for long-range reconnaissance from balloons.

National Geographic Magazine, who funded the project, published several articles about it. The flight was a huge success for the Army and the National Geographic Society, and was a successful collaboration between government, military, and the public sector.

More Info
http://www.nasm.si.edu/nasm/aero/aircraft/explorer.htm