Let’s take a walk down memory lane and learn about how Nikon has been a part of space exploration and has been inspired to shoot for the stars, quite literally.
Nikon: a technology that never stops aiming higher
Back in the early 1960s, NASA was in the market for more portable photographic devices that could withstand the strenuous conditions of space. They trusted Nikon, and its budding reputation in the consumer market, and finally selected the company as their special manufacturer for 35mm cameras.
Apollo 15 Launches to the Moon
Yet Nikon’s first real steps in space only really happened with the Nikon Photomic FTN, a modified Nikon F camera that was used aboard the Apollo 15 in 1971.
Indeed, to make the Photomic FTN space-proof, Nikon’s technology department developed solutions so that the camera would be as efficient on Earth’s crust as it would be 25 km away from it. Notably, Nikon developed a lubricant for its camera that did not evaporate despite abrupt changes in temperature, rapid acceleration, and air suction. This is one of the countless examples that explain Nikon’s infamous product robustness, and why Nikon cameras have been aboard every manned space flight since.
Ready to Go to Space?
NASA’s first move to fully digital SLRs was made possible thanks to the Nikon NASA D2XS, which was used during a Space Shuttle Discovery mission and ISS in 2007.
Today, Nikon cameras can be found inside and out of the International Space Station as a result of Nikon’s input throughout NASA’s history. Nikon’s cameras are used everyday to perform visual checks 400+ km above our heads on the International Space Station, to monitor its equipment, and to determine future maintenance for instance.
Nikon: a witness that fulfills our curiosity for space imagery
A number of the familiar images of space we have all seen in our lives, from school books to the internet, which show astronauts’ ‘’normality’’ in their day-to-day lives in outer-space have been taken using Nikon cameras. Yet astrophotography takes place in arguably one of the most extreme environments known to man: zero gravity, wildly varying temperatures, and orbiting at some 28,000 km per hour, as is the case in the ISS.
The stakes are high, and yet one needs only to take a look at Thomas Pesquet’s Instagram to appreciate Nikon’s expertise in high-precision optics, Astronaut Pesquet’s flair for photography, and last but not least, our planet’s magnificent beauty.
These flagship professional cameras from Nikon are designed for the most demanding of situations, with their rugged design and simple reliability being why so many professional “earthlings” use them.
We consider it the highest honor when an organization like NASA chooses to use a particular camera! In 2021, a stunning shot of a lunar halo captured on a Nikon Z6 II was even featured on NASA’s website, celebrating the shot as its ‘Astronomy Picture of the Day’.
Nikon: a window to the highest standards of our world(s)
The brand, known for creating synergies between its different fields of application (microscopes, binoculars, steppers, scanners, and of course spectacle lenses), is taking advantage of the advances made in the aeroespacial field to continually inspire its technologies to spectacles lenses. Like many of Nikon’s innovative and class-leading solutions from cameras to binoculars, microscopes, steppers, and scanners, Nikon’s spectacle lenses are a representation of Nikon’s innovative solutions.
For instance, Nikon digital SLR cameras are used in astrophotography as they are capable of managing stellar and chromatic aberrations so as to obtain a clear, crisp image. It is the very same knowledge that Nikon Lenswear provides to their wearers via the aspheric design of their eyeglasses lenses so that they can enjoy sharper vision all around the lens.
But what would be the point of capturing these stunning cosmic sceneries using flagship cameras if it weren’t for their customers to marvel at them worry-free? Nikon was the first to launch a coating capable of filtering blue light¹ that emanates from the sun, digital screens and artificial lighting. This pioneering coating innovation was born out of Nikon’s extensive knowledge of the history of light control.
Plus Nikon’s reputation for sturdiness does not need to be tested as far as in space to be proven. Their use of titanium-coated cameras and Nano Crystal coatings to reduce ghost, flare, and crystallized nano-size particles to a negligible level demonstrate their dedication to the product’s nobility and durability.