Astronaut Don Pettit is photographed in the Cupola Module of the ISS. Still Nikon cameras are positioned in front of each window. Credits: NASA

Nikon To The Moon: With NASA on Artemis

Nikon partners with NASA for Artemis missions, deploying modified Z 9 cameras to the Moon, continuing the legacy of collaborations with the space agency

Nikon has established a collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), entering into a Space Act agreement to support the agency’s Artemis campaign, a pivotal program aiming to return humanity to the Moon and lay the groundwork for future interplanetary exploration, including eventual voyages to Mars.

An artist’s concept of a suited Artemis astronaut looking out of a Moon lander hatch across the lunar surface, the Lunar Terrain Vehicle, and other surface elements. Credits: NASA
An artist’s concept of a suited Artemis astronaut looking out of a Moon lander hatch across the lunar surface, the Lunar Terrain Vehicle, and other surface elements. Credits: NASA

The focal point of this collaboration is the integration of Nikon’s cutting-edge mirrorless full-frame flagship, the Nikon Z 9 camera, into NASA’s Handheld Universal Lunar Camera (HULC) system for the upcoming Artemis III mission. This mission holds historical significance as it marks the first human landing on the lunar surface since 1972, with the added milestone of the first woman stepping foot on the Moon.


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Not just regular mirrorless camera

“As one of the many suppliers and manufacturers collaborating with NASA as part of the Space Act, our aim is to best equip the crew as they bravely bring humanity back to the surface of the Moon, and possibly beyond,” remarked Naoki Onozato, President and CEO of Nikon Inc., reflecting on the profound impact of this mission on mankind’s future.

The Artemis III mission, scheduled for September 2026 after being recently delayed, will witness the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying the agency’s Orion spacecraft. Following a 30-day mission, during which the crew will conduct research and multiple Moonwalks, they will return to Earth. The Nikon Z 9 camera, enhanced and modified to withstand the harsh lunar environment, will serve as the primary imaging tool for documenting this historic expedition.

Z 9, the new Nikon flagship mirrorless camera, is already used by astronaut onboard the ISS since February 2024. Credits: Nikon
Z 9, the new Nikon flagship mirrorless camera, is already used by astronaut onboard the ISS since February 2024. Credits: Nikon

Navigating the lunar surface presents a lot of challenges, including extreme temperatures and cosmic radiation exposure. To address these obstacles, Nikon’s engineers are collaborating closely with NASA to fortify the Z 9 camera‘s resilience through design modifications.

Thermal vacuum testing and radiation-hardened circuitry are among the measures being implemented to ensure the camera’s reliability amidst the space and lunar environment constraint.

Furthermore, in anticipation of extravehicular activities (EVAs), wherein astronauts will utilize the camera while wearing the spacesuits currently under development by Axiom Space, NASA is developing a custom grip, equipped with essential controls, to facilitate ease of use.

Additionally, several firmware adjustments will optimize the camera’s performance for exterior missions, enhancing functionality such as noise reduction and HDR imaging.


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Building on a historic collaboration

The collaboration between Nikon and NASA underscores a longstanding partnership in space exploration.

Nikon cameras and lenses have played pivotal roles in documenting humanity’s ventures beyond Earth, from the Apollo missions more than 50 years ago, passing through the initial International Space Station era (1999), to the present-day operations aboard the ISS.

Astronaut Don Pettit is photographed in the Cupola Module of the ISS. Still Nikon cameras are positioned in front of each window. Credits: NASA
Astronaut Don Pettit is photographed in the Cupola Module of the ISS. Still Nikon cameras are positioned in front of each window. Credits: NASA

The integration of Nikon’s state-of-the-art imaging technology into NASA’s Artemis mission won’t only be important for scientific purposes, but also for the impactful effect those images will have on the youngest generation, which have never experienced such human endeavor in their life.

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Edoardo Giammarino

Edoardo Giammarino

Co-Founder & Administrator. Drummer and Red Cross Volunteer, born in 1997. I like analog photography and videomaking. Firmly music-addicted.

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