How Astronauts Captured Iconic Space Photos – A History Of Cameras In Space

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Astronauts have been carrying cameras into space since Gherman Titov flew on Vostok 2, humanity’s most prominent memories of space exploration have been thanks to cameras which were adapted for spaceflight, modified to solve problems that would never be encountered on the ground, or to give them capabilities that were ahead of their time.

Selected References:
National Air & Space Museum



Cole Rise details on the Hasselblad modifications
Timm Chapman’s pages on NASA Nikons

  1. Pharmdkeith

    GO KODAK!!

  2. Andrew Hawthorne

    Does anyone know where Scott got the Lego Saturn V launch tower?

  3. Daniel Son

    Didn’t Gordon Cooper take pictures of ship wrecks ๐Ÿค”

  4. Yiglic Persfactious

    Which cammera took the legendary Earth Rise photo?

  5. CocoaButt

    All those Nikon cameras and yet Ashton Kutcher couldn’t lobby for a ride to the ISS.

  6. idiots after dark


  7. Little Star

    Ny Con? I’ve actually never heard it pronounced that way here in Australia. Also, are Hasselblad out of business?


    Love your content

  9. jonas1015119

    honestly surprised how early NASA adopted digital cameras. Convenience and speed is a big factor, but you can get so much more detail from 70mm and even 35mm film than an early 6MP sensor

  10. Matthew Walker

    Nice one sir !

  11. J Z

    What camera would be used if (when) NASA landed on the moon in the 2020s?

  12. Helium Road

    I have several Minolta cameras, including a HiMatic. Rokkor was MInolta’s lens maker; they tend to be fantastically sharp lenses. It’s really a shame Konica-Minolta got out of the photography business.

  13. IMJojoe

    nearly first

  14. Chicken Space Program

    5 flat earthers disliked this video

  15. William T.M.Theisen

    Awww, you’re not going to shame Alan Bean for burning out the tube on Apollo 12’s TV camera?

  16. imbetterthanyouis

    27th !

  17. David Gifford

    Thanks for this review of NASA camera history. As both a film camera hobbyist and life long follower of space exploration, this is a double whammy for me. Maybe sublimely I must have known. Iโ€™ve been a Nikon shooter for 30-years. Good enough for NASA, good enough for me.

  18. Jim's videos

    Using a selenium cell in *space* is a nice touch.

  19. Ian Maxwell

    Eventually, Canon may make a debut in space flight. Maybe. Iโ€™m not very into the camera world.

  20. steve shoemaker

    Thanks Scott

  21. Isaac Sothern


  22. Jeyycie

    Actually, early this year Nasa replaced their D5 by sending fifty D6 (or rather D5S should I said…) to the ISS, so the D6 is the current main DSLR body on the station.

  23. molly_disulfide

    Yo Scott, did you buy the parts kit for the Saturn V launch tower, or did you buy the pieces individually?

  24. Jared Jenkins

    Awesome, that silver Nasa Hasselblad… sexy as heck.

  25. Eto Hige Gamer Culture

    Very cool ty for this.

  26. benmol

    Maybe @kosmonavtika has some info about Soviet cameras ?

  27. Marcus Ayers

    I wonder what Tom Cruise is going to film on?

  28. Homemade Documentaries


  29. pleopsidium

    I think there’s also a Sony a7 onboard the ISS, but it’s only for video if I remember correctly

  30. nitehawk86

    How about the Starizona Hyperstar mounted on a Celestron C9.25. A 9.25 inch wide f/2 lens! They use it for taking high resolution pictures of the ground. I have Hyperstar for my C8, which is pointed upwards, mostly.

  31. potterma63

    Film for the win!

  32. doug Edwards

    Adam Savage has a detailed video discussing the NASA Nikon cameras and builds a replica camera and cover on the Tested channel.

  33. UniTrader

    Of course they dont use the best of all cameras, the P100, in Space, or they wouldnt find the curvature :D

    (this message may contain traces of irony)

  34. RMoribayashi

    I’ve always been facinated by the video cameras used by NASA. The signal from the color cameras used by Apollo had to fit into a much smaller bandwidth than the 6 Mhz used by NTSC cameras at the time. A low frame rate black and white camera with a spinning color wheel was used to send field sequential color pictures from surface of the moon on Apollo 14-17 The Space Shuttle cameras used a similar system with the color wheel built into the lens. That way the Shuttle camers could all be the same model black and white vidicon camera just with different lenses. Even though some were updated, the monochrome cameras in the Shuttle bay continued to use the vidicon cameras well into the 1990’s because of their superior low light capability.

  35. Sjoerd หˆสƒuหd

    Very interesting video!

  36. Jim's videos

    Also a D5 and a D850 make a good pair.

  37. bolino

    What about Gagarine and Salyut/Mir missions?

  38. Noah Dennis

    What cameras were placed on the soviet missions to Venus and how were they able to transmit the images back to earth?

  39. Cory Anderson

    In a studio :)

  40. Christian Estevez

    Its getting to the point where it would be cheaper to retrieve the Hasselblads left on the moon than buy one on eBay.

  41. GDR Riley

    this was really only focused on still cameras. you didn’t really bring up the dozens of movie and TV cameras

  42. Nolan Friedline

    Good one! Very interesting.

  43. The Lore Explorer

    Love the shirt Scott. Hope youve checked out the Nomai shuttles. Thanks to you and KSP I was able to fly them no problem!

  44. Matt Dyer

    Hasselblad’s marketing hasn’t really changed for 50 years with their ‘first on the moon theme’

  45. Jeroen

    I like that one of the first space cameras is a homonym for Laika

  46. thanksfernuthin

    I wonder if the tiny chip gyros in our phones are sensitive enough to perform that function of knowing where the camera was pointed. I would imagine it’s movement was measured in microns.

  47. My Earth

    #500! Now this, as a photographer, is really fascinating.

  48. Theo Maia

    thanks youtube for the notification 4 minutes late

  49. nemo skull

    makes me and my nikon d70 feel special.

  50. True Contrarian

    Nice topic. Found the history of film development during WW2 with EG&G fascinating .Count me in.

  51. Neil Fraser

    Gregory Olsen, one of the early tourists to ISS, lost his camera there. All the photos he took were on it. Never found out if it resurfaced.

  52. John Knapp

    Finding film and getting it processed may cost as much as the camera nowadays. ๐Ÿ˜

  53. Keyur Parmar

    Please make a video on how the fuel pumps, i mean how the valves work to set the correct percentage of thrust

  54. Interdimensional

    Once again proving how much innovation the space program generates.

  55. Ricky Spanish

    i hear apple has decided to stay in china, what a bummer

  56. Jit Goswami

    So, a history of some cameras in space

  57. rpavlik1

    The vlog-style video of Chris Cassidy experiencing the demo 2 launch was awesome, but wow, some of the dslr cameras they have up on station are pretty well shot… (Shot noise pun intended…)

  58. Melvyn Davis

    What a great vid! Loved it. Thank you.

  59. Chris Maguire

    Fascinating! Thank you, sir.

  60. Hank Meyer

    I bought an old medium format camera last year, and haven’t used it yet. I also have a Nikon 35mm camera. Neither of them need batteries to operate. This video is inspiring me to go out and shoot. ๐Ÿ“ธ

  61. subliminalvibes

    I’ve got a Selenium photo cell in my Olympus OM2!

  62. Jeff Snow

    So much time and energy being spent on this round earth conspiracy. These guys have been at it for decades.

  63. Andrew Whisenand

    Love the t-shirt!

  64. Jimmy James

    Great subject for this video, very interesting, thanks!

  65. Dumb Comment

    I misread the title as “How Astronauts Capture Ironic Space Photos”

  66. david johanson

    Think about that:we went to the moon. Just think about that. I wonder what that was like, being there.

  67. Starxteel KJB1611

    Hey Scott, have you heard of the stealth attack helicopter The Sting built in Area 51?

  68. Adam Pike Collegeman

    excellent Hasselblad film camera in space
    so glad the moon was shot with Hasselblad lol

    for artistic reasons !! yes a new market

  69. Isaac Hessler

    I love seeing non film photographers talking about film photography. Idk why. I just like to see it acknowledged

  70. Eddie Mercury

    6:43 I see what you did there

  71. Don Hull

    Scott, thanks for once more going into a subject that most of the other common space centered YouTube channels don’t cover. Your fascination with the “other” things connected to space gives us lots of very interesting insights into the space programs.

  72. Fleem Q Swipes

    I got me a Nikon camera,
    I love to take a photograph

  73. william gorham


  74. g1234538

    Hey Scott! Great video!

    I would have loved to have heard about the Linhof though, that took some insane pictures through the shuttle era since they were large format! They had specialty LF cameras before, but the Linhof I think that was from 1990 to around 2000 or so? There’s a training video floating around of astronauts using the Linhod on earth.

    And the longevity of the Hasselblads can’t be overstated, the last pictures they took with them (that I can find on their archives) were around 2002-2003, of course using the latest series of 70mm Hasselblads at the time (the 200 series).

  75. Doug InOrlando

    It would be interesting to know the magnification of the camera lens and why they picked it (e.g. 200 mm equivalent for 35 mm format)

  76. Tyler Walter

    Can we send up some vintage cameras with Crew 1 ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  77. X-JAKA7

    Scott Manley, have you done a video of cameras capturing Space Shuttle flights?

    Edit: This video got uploaded on my 19th birthday! ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ‰

  78. Liberty Dankmeme

    3:35 baller status – 2 watches

  79. zoperxplex

    I was hoping you do a video on the camera the astronauts used to take pictures of the monolith in 2001:A Space Odyssey.

  80. jcoghill2

    That camera looks like it was built in someones back yard.

  81. Tesla Granddad

    I showed this episode to my wife, a professional photographer, she was very impressed. Thank you for all the hard work you do researching and making these episodes.

  82. Jaden Nelson

    Light should fly safe.

  83. David Kearns

    So I go and look up that Hasselblad camera on B&H since I figure they are who would sell such a botique camera and yea they are certainly not consumer cameras. 6k for just the camera body. Though I am sure they take fantastic photos for those who use a camera to make a living.

  84. aserta

    RADIATION damage on cameras can be seen in the inflatable module video, where they first enter it, the dark of the chamber highlights the myriad of holes punched through the sensor.

  85. Bakamoichigei

    11:00 “The camera knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t.” ๐Ÿ˜

  86. Alt Four

    The Cosmosphere in Kansas has a great collection and display of cameras used during apollo and shuttle missions.

  87. Superted

    Listened to you for years. Since I got into kerbal. Iโ€™m on the dumb end of attention span. I come back now and again and tour amazing mate. Sending love

  88. Ryan Martin

    I have a Nikon F5 and love it. I’ll gladly take a Hasselblad 500c as well if someone is handing them out.

  89. ConfusedNyan

    My dad was a big-time photographer in his early years, especially when he was stationed in Japan during his time in the USAF. He used a Nikon F body with an exposure meter viewfinder for much of the time he used that camera. He did a lot of his own processing and enlarging. That said, he would have likely loved this video. As someone who followed in his footsteps in that bit of enthusiasm, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  90. Slice of Bread

    “one of the most significant things brought to space on John Glenns first orbital flight was something he bought in a store”
    becase, as we know, most items brought to space were stolen.

  91. Space Ranger

    I remember trying to get pictures of stars with a kit lens!!!!!

  92. Ananda Nanda

    “Astronomy’s much more fun when you’re not an astronomer.”
    ~Brian May

  93. dosmastrify

    7:53 “I don’t have time to go into detail on this”
    you underestimate your core audience, sir

  94. dustin fisher

    I love that you love to talk about space hardware. I love it even more that you record yourself doing such things and then allow me to absorb all that delicious space knowledge.

  95. Cadwaladr

    I’m a bit of a film photography nerd, so one of my favourite bits of space photography is how Luna 3 got pictures of the far side of the moon in 1959. It had a film camera, took the pictures, then developed the film onboard, scanned it with a cathode ray tube and a photomultiplier, and transmitted the pictures back as an analog video signal. Pretty amazing stuff.

  96. Jan Negrey

    I came here from Marathoning SciManDan and his compilation of flerfers who say no-one ever proved curvature. This is a refresher. Thanks.

  97. Finnthewastebin

    History of space cameras is an intresting idea.

  98. Louis Mamakos

    You forgot probably the biggest, highest resolution camera that flew on Shuttle missions – the IMAX movie camera. I went to a talk at the National Air and Space Museum given by one of the principals for that program coincident with the premiere of “The Dream is Alive”, the first IMAX film shot in space in 1984. It was really quite interesting! Consider that the IMAX film format is just frigging HUGE – 70mm, so the film reels are quite massive… and they spin! With enough angular momentum that the gyroscopic effects assert themselves if you want to pan the camera during a shoot. I think I recall that a single reel of film was something like 3 minutes of shooting time.

    On subsequent missions, I believe they had an IMAX camera in the payload bay.

  99. ๊ง๐‘ฒ๐’‚๐’˜๐’‚๐’Š๐’Š ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’˜๏ฟฝ

    This guy Should Be a Astronaut ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿš€

  100. Skul

    In a few years, space tourists will just use their phone cameras.

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