Unidentified Photographer and Walter Schirra (American, 1923-2007)
Four contact sheets depicting the Sigma 7 space mission of Walter Schirra, Mercury-Atlas 8, October 3, 1962. Vintage chromogenic prints on fiber-based Kodak paper with "A Kodak Paper" watermark on the verso, image sizes to 7 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. (19.2 x 24.0 cm), unmatted.
Condition: Slightly yellowed paper with numbered labels affixed to the sheet rectos.
N.B. These rare contact sheets (used at NASA headquarters in Washington to consult available photographs of the mission) depict different aspects of Schirra's successful six-orbits flight on Sigma 7 from liftoff to recovery with three rare views of Schirra recorded by the onboard automatic camera during the flight. Specially included are five views of the Earth from space that Schirra took during the flight. He was the first astronaut to carry a Hasselblad camera into space. Prior to the introduction of the Hasselblad, NASA lacked a defined photography program. It was not until Schirra, a known camera enthusiast, sought a precision instrument to accompany him on his MA-8 mission that NASA's photographic identity began to take shape. After extensive research and discussion with photographers (Ralph Morse and Carl Mydans of Life, and Ken Weaver, Otis Imboden, and Luis Marden of National Geographic), Schirra identified the Hasselblad as his equipment of choice, purchased a Hasselblad 500C camera at a Houston photo supply shop in 1962, and brought it back to NASA for mission use preparation. NASA photographic specialist Richard Underwood recalled, "the potential of the Hasselblad was there, even with overexposed film" (Schick and Van Haaften, p. 22).
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