How NASA Astronauts Capture Photographs in Space

Scott Manley’s YouTube channel has been a source of fascination for me ever since I discovered the rocket-simulation game ‘Kerbal Space Program‘. However, it has grown far beyond that to topics that are related to space, and space hardware. One of his recent videos is about the camera equipment that astronauts have taken aboard spacecraft to capture images in space, and it’s packed with information.

A History Of Cameras In Space

Scott’s video takes a dive into the history of space cameras, starting off with the first few cameras commercial stills cameras that were adapted for use while the astronauts had their space suits on. The Ansco (rebranded Minolta) 35mm Range Finder with 45mm f/2.8 Rokkor lens, Mounted upside-down on a hand-grip with winder & trigger levers, and a viewfinder on the bottom of the camera is quite an interesting sight.

However, the most interesting cameras to me, were the Hasselblads, and the Nikon F3 and F4 variants which include some of the first digital SLR cameras ever developed. Obviously, the main benefit would be that images can be transmitted to ground stations almost immediately, compared to film cameras which need to have the film physically transported back to earth. The Nikon F3 and F4 cameras are very dear to me. I own an F3, and the F4s was a dream camera of mine when I was a boy.

Photographic equipment on board the ISS

How NASA Astronauts Captured Photographs in Space

It’s intriguing to see how much of this was possible because of the interest of the astronauts themselves. Today, it seems that most of the equipment aboard the International Space Station (ISS), is still Nikon gear, and that speaks volumes about their sturdiness and reliability.

An important point to note is that this video is about the equipment that’s used by astronauts, and not any of the automated or mechanised cameras flown by spacecraft and satellites.

Of course, no YouTube video is complete without the comments section, and there are a few informative comments about other cameras that flew in space too, including IMAX cameras. But I think Scott’s focus in this video is primarily still-image cameras and not video cameras.

Scott Manley

Be sure to check out the video embeded above, and if you’re enamoured by human space-flight, you should definitely check out Scott Manley’s YouTube Channel. He has regular updates on new launches and projects from across the globe, and also offers historical perspectives on how outer space is being explored.

If you have any more information to add to the discussion, do leave a comment here, or on Scott’s video.

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