Saturday, February 25, 2012

LUNAR LEICA


An interesting, but relatively unknown fact is that NASA initially had chosen the Leica M4 as the camera to be used on their lunar missions.  The reason was weight.  Of all the systems for the Apollo missions, one could never be tested because of the low gravity of the moon.  That was the take-off module.  To gain as much of a weight advantage as possible, NASA did everything they could to save as weight.  That included the camera equipment.  The Leica M4 with 35mm f/1.4 Summilux was definitely lighter than anything Hasselblad, their regular camera of choice, had to offer.  Leitz modified several cameras and lenses to feature large levers to allow camera operation with the bulky gloves of the space suits.  The astronauts chosen for the lunar missions all received extensive training in the use of the camera.

Yet, as is common knowledge, the Leica never made it to the moon.  The credit goes to one engineer who figured out that the interchangeable film backs for the Hasselblad were lighter than the M4 with its Summilux lens.  Subsequently NASA decided to use the Hasselblad after all.  The Saturn 5 rockets had no problem delivering the payload to the moon.  For the return trip it was subsequently decided to remove the film backs from the cameras and to leave the cameras on the moon where they still reside today.  A total of 12 Hasselblad cameras are sitting in the lunar dust, ready to be picked up. 

An intriguing question is if they might be still able to operate properly after all these years in the extremely harsh environment of the lunar surface.



For more info on the Leica-NASA connection got to:

LEICA WITH SPECTOGRAPH USED BY NASA

LEICA M3 ON ENDEAVOUR SHUTTLE MISSION

NASA LEICA Ig

LUNAR LEICA – UPDATE WITH PICTURES

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST




1 comment:

  1. The Leica and cameras and photography in general certainly offer a lot of topics for discussion. But we must not forget the ultimate purpose of why we have cameras; to take pictures. For that reason I would like to start a weekly (or possibly daily) gallery of photographs. But I don’t want this to be a showcase for just my own work; to the contrary, I would like to encourage everyone to submit photographs for display on this blog. The copyright to the photographs will remain with the photographer and no pictures will ever be used for any other purpose unless permission is given by the copyright holder.
    No registration for this site is necessary. Just email any of the photographs to either of my email addresses at:

    info@gmpphoto.com or gmpphotography@msn.com

    If possible, please include the make and model of the camera (any camera, not just Leica) and any other information you deem important.

    It is my hope that this may become one of the most sought after topics of this blog.

    Thank you,

    Heinz Richter

    ReplyDelete