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Japan sends a modified Pentax 300mm F4 lens into space aboard its Kitsune 6 microsatellite

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The Pentax DA* 300mm F4 ED(IF) SDM lens has gone to space. Ricoh Imaging Japan announced that its 300mm F4 lens for APS-C cameras has been installed in the Kitsune 6U CubeSat satellite as a shooting lens.

Kitsune was about the Antares rocket launched from Virginia last month. The rocket successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS). Kitsune 6U will collect ground sensor data and perform high-resolution imaging of the Earth’s surface.

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A standard Pentax DA* 300mm F4 lens

Kitsune 6U is a relatively small satellite developed by the HAK consortium, which includes Harada Seiki, Addnics Corporation and the Kyushi Institute of Technology (Kyutech). The satellite includes a single camera and lens and will be deployed from the ISS’s Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed Kibō.

The nanosatellite will conduct several missions and its Earth observations include a resolution of 5m. This means that each pixel of an image covers a 5m x 5m area on the Earth’s surface. You can learn more about spatial resolution for satellite imagery by clicking here.

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The custom Pentax 300mm F4 lens designed for the Kitsune 6U nanosatellite

The Pentax 300mm F4 lens was selected due to its resolving performance, compact size and adaptability to use in space. Because it’s a commercially-produced lens, it’s also an affordable option. The lens has been placed inside a customized barrel for use in the satellite.

In a translated statement, Mr. Hirotoshi Harada, President of Harada Seiki, one of JAXA’s partner companies and a member of the HAK consortium, said, ‘As a satellite needed today, it is an easy-to-use satellite with a low usage hurdle. This satellite is intended for entertainment and academic use. To create a satellite that is both easy to use and inexpensive, it was necessary to use consumer products and adapt them to space equipment. The Kitsune satellite is a step forward in the field of new satellites thanks to the joint research with Ricoh Imaging Company. If we have a satellite that can be used by many people in a casual, playful way, its use will increase. This will contribute to the information industry, which is more closely related to people’s daily lives. Harada Seiki, like Ricoh Imaging Corporation, which cooperated with us this time, will contribute to the world to make people happy.’

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A completed satellite

There have been many cameras and lenses from well-known photo brands sent to space over the years. If you’d like to learn more about cameras and lenses in space, check out this video. Pentax itself has a rich history with astrophotography from Earth. The company offers cameras with astrophotography-oriented features, such as Astrotracer. You can learn more about Pentax and astrophotography at this dedicated micro-site on Ricoh Imaging.

All images courtesy of Ricoh Imaging Japan

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