A new book from teNeues named ‘Apollo VII-XVII’ will relive the drama associated with all the 11 missions of the program 50years later. NASA has made history ever since October 11, 1968, the day it launched its first ever manned spacecraft. The book will contain previously unpublished photographs taken by Apollo astronauts and a foreword by Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut. The array of breathtaking pictures include 13 of the world’s tallest peaks captured in one single frame and ‘Earthrise’ which was taken by Bill Anders from the lunar orbit. Astronauts of the earlier Apollo missions have been referred to as heroes, scientists, explorers but their skills of photography have always been ignored. Cunningham said that photography was part of the rigorous training program astronauts had to undergo. They practiced with the Hassleblad camera 2 years before their first Apollo launch; he added and said that photography has improved a lot in the past 50 years of space explorations. For better utilization of the modified cameras, astronauts took it on personal trips. Tutorials in places like Arizona and Nevada were offered by the agency as the surfaces there are similar to geological conditions of the moon. An expert was later stationed at mission control centers for answering questions related to photography.
NASA started putting a lot more emphasis on space photography as time advanced and missions progressed. Geological and topographic data in addition to spacecraft’s condition had to be documented. But these required separate kind of lenses and cameras. NASA pilot Walter Schirra was the first to use his own Hassleblad 500C camera and took amazing photographs during his 1962 mission resulting in the decades-long collaboration between Hassleblad and NASA. Other cameras used were Hassleblad Super Wide Camera and 35mm PhotomicFTn by Nikon provided huge picture coverage and withstanding power against extreme forces of gravitation respectively. Lens producer from Germany Carl Zeiss also collaborated with NASA leading to making of the highest speed camera lenses in the world.
Astronauts encountered difficulties too while taking photos like bulky space suits, low-gravity and clouds that cover about 55% of Earth’s surface. Another problem was with Cunningham circling the Earth once every 90minutes, his spacecraft oscillated between day and night every 45minutes making it difficult to take photos. Cunningham said that they never took pictures of China as the surface could never be seen because of the smog and cloud cover in their atmosphere.