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Kodak DCS 760 along for the ride with Discovery  
Thursday, August 4, 2005 | by Rob Galbraith

The return to space for NASA's Space Shuttle program means it's also back to work for a number of specially-modified and standard-issue Kodak DCS 760 cameras. The 6MP digital SLR built around a Nikon F5 chassis continues to be NASA's digital still camera of choice for both Shuttle missions and to record life aboard the International Space Station.

John Oliveira, Kodak Professional's Worldwide Service and Support Manager, recently made a post in the forums on this site describing the role of the DCS 760 in the current Discovery's mission. The content of the post is mostly an excerpt from an internal communication prepared by James Krempasky, a Service and Support Engineer at Kodak who has been, says Oliveira, a "key interface to NASA."

It's an interesting read, especially for those of us who make pictures a little bit closer to earth than Discovery's crew. Oliveira granted us permission to publish Krempasky's note, which is contained in the table below.

Note: NASA's mission press kit also includes several mentions of the DCS 760 and how it was to be used inside and outside of Discovery and on the International Space Station. Do a search for "digital camera" in this downloadable PDF from the NASA web site to locate the various references.

The [NASA] contractor explained that ALL the still digital photos that are being shown on network and cable news as well as the newspapers were taken with our DCS 760 cameras. The photos of the foam piece breaking off the Main Fuel tank was taken with our DCS 760 camera externally mounted in the shuttle bay. The images were captured with the DCS 760 camera and transmitted via 130 ft IEEE cable through a IEEE buffer box to one of the Orbiter's computers.

NASA does not refer to Discovery as a 'Space Shuttle' but as an Orbiter. Also, the pictures of the Main Fuel Tank as it drifted slowly below the Orbiter was taken by one of the crew with a hand held DCS 760 camera with a 400 mm lens.

When Discovery did a flip of the Orbiter (video footage) so that the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) could capture images of the Orbiter heat shield system, the camera that the ISS crew used was a Kodak DCS 760 camera. There are a total of five DCS 760 cameras aboard the ISS.

It is interesting to note that some of the DCS 760 cameras NASA is using to capture images of the Orbiter and ISS come right off our assembly line WITHOUT any modifications.

There are an additional twenty two (22) DCS 760 cameras that were modified so that they could be used external to either the Orbiter or International Space Station. The modification to those twenty two (22) cameras consisted of returning the F5 Camera Bodies to Nikon so that the internal lubricates could be replaced. The DCS 760 cameras are kept in heating and cooling blanket for protection but the lubricants were replaced because of temperature extremes that the camera might be exposed to in space. Only minor changes were made to the DCS 760 camera firmware. NASA requested that if an error message was displayed the astronaut did not have to acknowledge to capture the next image. The DCS 760 camera is mounted to the astronaut space suit via the tripod mount on the camera. It would be difficult for the astronaut to see the Color LCD and to operate the buttons on the Rear Cover with their glove. Another opportunity for are ergonomics group?  Also, if the camera detected an out of temperature condition, too hot or too cold, the camera would continue to capture images.

We at Kodak continue to be total amazed of the some of the uses our customers have found for our cameras.  From a customer who duct taped their DCS 460 camera to the wing of their plane for GPS photography. To the photo journalist who put their NC 2000e camera in a plastic bag to capture images during a hurricane. To NASA placing a DCS 760 camera in the cargo bay of the Discovery Orbiter to capture images during liftoff.  What a truly strange ride it [has] been. . .

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