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  Gemini Pilot Observer Camera (Milliken)

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Author Topic:   Gemini Pilot Observer Camera (Milliken)

Posts: 31
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 12-18-2008 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for atlas5guy   Click Here to Email atlas5guy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got a "mystery" that I'd like to put forward for all the Gemini experts in the crowd to consider. In the "extras" with the recent "Shadow of the Moon" DVD there are a couple of black-and-white film sequences that were obviously filmed inside the cabin during a Gemini flight - but the astronaut depicted is not recognizable to me or to another expert that I showed the film still to.

In the Astronaut Hall of Fame Museum near KSC, they have a camera on display that is labeled the 'Pilot Observer Camera' for Gemini long-duration flights. It is a Milliken 16 mm film camera model DBM-7 (that one NASA document referred to as a 'panel camera,' but I could not find a suitable explanation).

I am assuming that this is the camera that filmed the b&w sequences in the "Shadow of the Moon" extras.

Are any of our resident Gemini experts familiar with the Pilot Observer Camera or the films that it produced? There are some b&w films showing the Gemini 7 astronauts conducting some of their in-cabin experiments, and I assume these films were made by the Milliken DBM-7 camera.

I have a photo of the camera in the museum and a film still of the unidentified Gemini astronaut that I can send to those who are interested. Thanks.

Joel Powell


Posts: 31
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 12-21-2008 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for atlas5guy   Click Here to Email atlas5guy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are the photographs:


Posts: 593
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 12-21-2008 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Pilot Observer Camera was a feature of the Mercury control panel, mounted in the lower left section of the main panel. Its angled lens orientation is a result of the mounting location and the direction of the astronaut's head. The camera has given us the famous footage of the Mercury astronauts during their flights.

The camera was used again in the unmanned Gemini II flight, to record instrument panel readings. (See: Gemini 2 Instrumentation Panels)

To my knowledge this type of camera was never used in a manned Gemini flight. Any onboard Gemini footage would be from the Maurer 16mm camera, either handheld or window mounted.

My first guess on the identity of the mystery astronaut would be Michael Collins (Gemini X).

John Fongheiser
Historic Space Systems,

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