Impressive archive related to the photographic aspects of Gordon Cooper’s Mercury-Atlas 9 flight in the Faith 7 spacecraft, consisting of some of his own personal notes and numerous photographs. This archive originates from the same collection as the Mercury-flown Hasselblad camera and Zeiss lens sold by us in November 2014.
Among the most significant items are: a one-page list of experiments with associated cameras, magazines, and lenses penned by Cooper; a typed list headed “Onboard Equipment MA-9/20” listing photographic equipment taken on the mission and its location, heavily annotated in pencil by Cooper; a three-page list of onboard equipment with a couple annotations in Cooper’s hand; and briefing notes concerning “a nighttime photography experiment” annotated in Cooper’s hand, with a few passages underlined and some comments in the margins.
Photographs include: more than 600 original vintage glossy 8 x 10 black-and-white photos chronicling the history of MA-6 from Cooper’s training through the celebratory parade held upon his return; a binder labeled “In Flight Pictures MA-9” containing 15 color photos taken during flight, several annotated in Cooper’s hand, with subjects including the Atlas Mountains in Africa, Baja California, Mexico, Texas, China, and the Himalayas; a binder containing maps and matching photographs; and a handful of other associated press and NASA photos.
Also included are many pages of photography-related internal notes and memos, including: photographic index sheets for MA-9; a copy of a 1967 memo from John Young concerning photography in spaceflight; Cooper’s personal copy of a typed “Lunar Surface Superwide Hasselblad Camera Development Plan,” January 11, 1967; copies of technical drawings of camera components sent to Cooper; and other technical memos from the mid-1960s. Also includes a Hasselblad dark slide, though it is unclear what relation (if any) it has to the Hasselblad previously sold. In overall very good to fine condition.
Boasting an extensive assortment of rare original photos—including those that Cooper himself took from space—as well as Cooper’s original stowage notes, this is an extraordinary archive related to the very first Hasselblad taken into space. The Hasselblad camera and Zeiss lens were originally chosen by Wally Schirra and used on his MA-8 mission, then borrowed by Cooper for MA-9. The success of the photography during these missions prompted NASA’s long-term partnership with Hasselblad, who eventually manufactured the cameras used on the lunar surface during the Apollo program. On MA-9, Cooper made history with 22 solo orbits of Earth in a mission that lasted over 34 hours—the longest and final flight of the Mercury Program, during which he conducted photography used in a Weather Bureau experiment and horizon-definition photography for MIT. Both of these projects are referenced in the handwritten lists here offered. An exhaustive, important archive from the files of a pioneering astronaut.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.