NASA Launched Nikon Z 9 to International Space Station

NASA Launched Nikon Z 9 to International Space Station


Melville, NY—In late January, NASA launched the Nikon Z 9 to the International Space Station. There, it will help NASA astronauts capture iconic, breathtaking images of Earth and space. This is a landmark achievement for the Nikon Z series, as the Z 9 is the first Nikon mirrorless camera used by the space station crew.

“Nikon firmly believes in NASA’s mission of space exploration and pioneering research. And we will continue to work closely with the space agency to make sure they are properly equipped,” said Naoki Onozato, president and CEO, Nikon Inc. “The brave crew have to withstand the rigors of space exploration, but we want to help to make sure they won’t have to worry about their camera equipment.”

NASA Launched Nikon Z 9 to ISS

Furthermore, NASA sent multiple Z 9 bodies along with a selection of Nikkor lenses to the orbiting laboratory on the 20th Northrop Grumman commercial resupply services mission for NASA. The Cygnus cargo spacecraft, carried on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on January 30, 2024.

NASA launched Nikon Z 9-Nikon-Z-9_w24-70_2.8_right-pro-level-mirrorless-cameras
Nikon Z 9

As NASA integrates the latest technology of Nikon’s mirrorless camera system, it also sent a selection of lenses to assist astronauts. The shipment consists of 13 Z 9 cameras, 15 FTZ II lens adapters and more than 15 Nikkor Z lenses, including super-telephoto and macro lenses.

What’s more, the Z 9 uses the latest mirrorless technology. In fact, it is replacing the current inventory of Nikon D6 and D5 digital SLR cameras on the space station. Since the Apollo 15 mission more than 50 years ago, NASA has used Nikon cameras and lenses for space exploration on various missions and the space shuttles.

Moreover, starting in 1999, NASA used Nikon cameras (Nikon F5) and Nikkor lenses  aboard the orbiting laboratory to aid in scientific research and maintenance. They also have aided astronauts in capturing the iconic images of Earth and the heavens. The astronauts use the imaging gear inside the space station as well as in the vacuum of space in a special “blanket” developed by NASA. In 2008, NASA took delivery of the D2XS digital SLR. Later, in 2013, 38 Nikon D4 DSLR cameras and 64 Nikkor lenses were delivered to the space station crew.

Nikon Z

The Nikon Z series of mirrorless digital cameras launched in 2018. Since then, Nikon has continually applied its latest innovations, continual firmware updates as well as an expanding line of Nikkor Z lenses. Further, the Z 9 is Nikon’s flagship mirrorless full-frame camera. It is also the first camera of its type to eliminate a shutter, minimizing moving parts for maximum durability.

Moreover, the cameras used on the orbiting laboratory are physically unmodified. This means that terrestrial consumers have access to the same build quality as the space station crew in space.

While the camera is physically the same, Nikon engineers worked directly with NASA to create a custom dedicated firmware to better serve the astronauts and the environment in space. This includes expanding noise reduction to faster shutter speeds to account for the constant bombardment of cosmic radiation the crew and gear receive. Nikon made additional changes to the file-naming sequence, as well as default settings and controls now optimized for life aboard the orbiting laboratory. Plus, it also made changes to the in-camera FTP and transfer protocol to simplify the astronauts’ workflow.