Michael Collins with Apollo 11 crews (Pic: Nasa)
Collins (centre) had had mishaps with cameras in space before (Pic: Nasa)

If you’ve ever lost a camera in your house, you can take solace in the fact you’re in fine company.

On the historic Apollo 11 mission – the one that landed humans on the Moon for the very first time – Nasa astronaut Michael Collins managed to lose his Hasselblad while inside the cramped confines of the Columbia capsule.

Collin was the command module pilot, the astronaut who would orbit the Moon alone while his colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left their footprints on the lunar surface.

This Nasa transcript is as the trip are watching the sun rise from behind the Earth on their way to the Moon.

Collins: Jesus Christ, look at that horizon!
Armstrong: Isn’t that something?
Collins: Goddamn, that’s pretty! This is unreal. I’d forgotten.
Armstrong: Get a picture of that.
Collins: Ooh, sure, I will. I’ve lost a Hasselblad. Has anybody seen a Hasselblad floating by? It couldn’t have gone very far, big son of a gun like that.
Armstrong: Now, what do we have—is that all the … ?
Collins: You had the switch on inside. [Garble]. Oh yeah. Okay. [Garble] automatic light control features.
Collins: Well, that pisses me off! Hasselblad gone. Find that mother before she or I ends the [garble]. Everybody look for a floating Hasselblad. I see a pen floating loose down here, too. Is anybody missing a ballpoint pen?
Aldrin: Got mine. Is it ballpoint, or is it [garble]?
Collins: Yes, ballpoint. Here it is. I mean felt tip.
Collins: [Garble] much embarrassed to say they’ve lost a Hasselblad. I seem to be prone to that.

Collins indeed already had a bad habit of losing Hasselblads in space. On the Gemini 10 mission in July 1966, Collins left the capsule on a spacewalk to inspect an Agena Target Vehicle, an unmanned spacecraft used to practice rendezvous manoeuvres in space.

Al Bean on Moon surface (Pic: Nasa)
The Apollo astronauts who made it to the Moon used Hasselblads to document their surroundings (Pic: Nasa)

Collins became the first human to meet another spacecraft in orbit, but while he was making sure his tether didn’t get snagged around the two spacecraft, Collins’ Hasseblad Super Wide Camera (SWC) detached and floated away.

Despite several attempts, Collins was unable to grab it, giving Sweden its first –if unintended – satellite.

Collins misplaced Apollo 11 camera was eventually found, and he shot one of the mission’s most famous images – that of the Eagle lander departing Columbia on the way to its momentous meeting with the Moon.

Stephen Dowling
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amigo toro
amigo toro
9 months ago

To be able to take off from the Moon, the astronauts where only to bring back the film, not the camera. So, there are still Hasselbad cameras up there!