[Cole Price] describes himself as a photographer and a space nerd. We’ll give that to him since his web site clearly shows a love of cameras and a love of the NASA programs from the 1960s. [Cole] has painstakingly made replicas of cameras used in the space program including a Hasselblad 500C used on a Mercury flight and another Hasselblad used during Apollo 11. His work is on display in several venues — for example, the 500C is in the Carl Zeiss headquarters building.
[Cole’s] only made a detailed post about 500C and a teaser about the Apollo 11 camera. However, there’s a lot of detail about what NASA — and an RCA technician named [Red Williams] — did to get the camera space-ready.
If you are familiar with how government projects work today, you’ll smile when you read that [Wally Schirra] just bought the original 500C at a local camera store. However, it wasn’t suitable for use on orbit.
The Mercury capsule was tiny, so the camera got an external viewfinder. The leather covering had to go too, since it could outgas in a vacuum. Fearing shiny reflections in the capsule window, the camera also got a coat of black paint. The lens had some modifications, too, to make it easier to work with gloved hands. They even bolted down the film back to prevent accidental opening ruining pictures while fumbling with the camera in the tiny craft.
We are looking forward to hearing more about the Apollo camera reconstruction. Usually, we are thinking about their computers, but the cameras were a great piece of tech, too. We know Apollo launched a lot of engineers, but maybe it also spawned some photographers.