There have been several IMAX movies filmed either partially, or wholly while in orbit around the earth. Some of these include the Space Station, Hubble, and several in general about the space shuttle. These IMAX cameras are quite large and heavy (I found a reference to 42 pounds for a single camera, plus the multiple large film reels, associated equipment, etc.).

Being a private enterprise, did IMAX have to pay to have their cameras launched up into space as cargo, and did they have to pay NASA for the time the astronauts (and cosmonauts) operated the cameras for them?


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tl;dr It's complicated.

This NASA history office list of shuttle mission payloads characterizes the IMAX shuttle payload bay cameras as a "joint effort" between NASA and IMAX. (page 12 of pdf)

IMAX profits from releasing the films, but NASA certainly viewed/views the IMAX films as good public relations. The "joint effort" wording implies that both organizations had contributed.

There were Space Act agreements between IMAX and NASA as mentioned in this old NASA press release. This document states that there is a "reimbursable" SAA for certifying the cameras to be used on the ISS. This means that IMAX paid for at least some of the work. The amount is not specified. "Reimbursable Agreements are Agreements wherein NASA's costs associated with the undertaking are reimbursed by the Agreement Partner (in full or in part)."

Someone tried to use an FOIA request to get details on the contracts between IMAX and NASA. They were not successful.


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