If the phrase “super spy camera” conjures up ideas of tiny cameras hidden inside fancy lapel pins or eye glasses, you’ve been watching too much James Bond. While tiny stealth cameras are probably in more than a few top-secret tech kits, one 348-pound Soviet-era lens that popped up on a Ukrainian online classified site really puts the “super” in super spy camera.
The lens was reportedly mounted on the Yantar 4K2 satellite during orbit, paired with a Zhemchug-18 film camera, and used to photograph images of the Earth. Besides being pretty hefty, the lens is nearly 4.5 feet long and about 1.5 feet wide — wider than two regulation size basketballs side by side, Petapixel noted.
Launched by the Russian Federation after the Soviet Union dissolved, the Yantar 4K2 is one of 179 total reconnaissance satellites. The Yantar 4K2 was first launched in 1981; using the Zenit launch vehicle, it was sent into orbit a total of 82 times, with the last launch in 2002.
Compared to earlier satellites, the 4K2 included a few more advanced features for military surveillance. The satellite could remain in orbit for 180 days instead of 120, using 22 film return capsules. The camera on board was developed for taking detailed panoramas. The satellite was eventually developed after the Yantar 2K was deemed insufficient at providing early warning of an attack.
The lens, listed on a Ukraine classified-ads site, is priced at $18,500 — but the seller says the price is negotiable. Sure, it’s pricey, but keep in mind that it DOES come with it’s own carrying case. Still, unless you have a satellite in your garage, it’s probably nothing more than a conversation piece — and an expensive one at that.
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