Photographer and self-described ‘space nerd’ Cole Rise has detailed his creation of a replica of the Hasselblad camera used by NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts. The model is precise down to the finest details, including the camera’s serial number and labels. The creation process, as explained by Wired, was a lengthy one, involving the acquisition of a Hasselblad Apollo camera prototype, NASA archival photos and more.

NASA engineers had heavily modified a Hasselblad 500 EL camera for the Apollo 11 mission, including adding motors, removing the focus screen and mirror, and adding heat-resistant aluminum paint, among other things. Rise spent four years working on his replica of this camera, a process that involved machining many of the components himself, in addition to salvaging select parts from a broken Hasselblad MK-70 camera.

In addition to the modified Hasselblad 500 EL camera, the Space Camera Co. website also shows his replica of NASA’s Hasselblad 500C camera, which had been modified by NASA engineers in collaboration with an RCA contractor. Rise worked on his 500C replica before the Apollo 11 camera, saying on the Space Camera Co. website:

By going through the tedious process of remaking this camera, you begin to uncover its secrets and the thought processes that went into making it space-worthy. It was the seed that eventually cemented Hasselblad’s relationship with NASA as the de facto space camera maker. And it was the project that taught me the skills required to eventually make a functional lunar camera.

Rise is making multiple 500C replicas for private collectors and creating a documentary that details his work. Rise’s website lists the Apollo 11 Hasselblad camera replica as currently on display in Le Marais, Paris.


Photo credits: Photos by Cole Rise, used with permission