Back in August, NASA’s love affair with Nikon cameras made the news when the space agency ordered 53 unmodified Nikon D5 DSLRs that it would use on the International Space Station and for ‘training purposes’ here on Earth. Ten of those D5 cameras are scheduled to make it to the ISS this week.
Packed aboard the Orbital ATK OA-8 Space Station Cargo Resupply Mission that took off this Sunday at 7:19am Eastern time, and are scheduled to arrive at the ISS tomorrow morning around 4:50am (you can actually watch live coverage of the rendezvous on NASA TV starting at 3:15am).
Nikon tells us that NASA is “reusing Nikon lenses and accessories previously launch with the Nikon D4 and D2Xs cameras,” and are planning to keep the D5 cameras in circulation for 12-18 months. With any luck, the astronauts aboard the space station will use them to capture more images like these:
NASA’s relationship with Nikon began in 1971, when the Nikon Photomic FTN (a modified Nikon F) went to the moon with the astronauts of Apollo 15. Fast forward to 2008, and NASA ordered its first digital cameras for use in space, a set of six Nikon D2XS DSLRs, followed by an order for 11 Nikon D3S cameras in 2009, 38 Nikon D4 DSLRs in 2013, and another 10 D4s in 2016.
The only question now, I suppose, is when is the Space Agency going to replace its glass? NASA’s latest order of Nikon glass was placed in 2010, when 64 NIKKOR lenses were delivered to the space agency. If astronaut photographers are anything like us Earth-bound folk, that means they’ve been drooling over ‘better’ lenses than they currently have since about… three days after they got those lenses.