US space agency NASA has ordered 76 Nikon D2Xs digital SLRs ? a model that is more than a year old ? for deployment on space shuttle missions.

?The NASA order comprises 76 D2Xs digital SLR cameras, 39 Nikkor lenses (two types), 64 Speedlight flashes, batteries and other accessories to support both flight and training requirements,? according to a statement released today by Nikon Japan.

The gear is expected to be used for recording astronaut?s activities both inside and outside the space shuttle, and on the International Space Station.

?Except a change to NASA-specified lubricants, the D2Xs models to be used are almost identical to those commercially available on the market,? adds Nikon.

Before they can be deployed on a particular mission NASA is expected to put the cameras through ?stringent? tests.

Launched in June last year, the D2Xs DSLR is a 12.4-million-pixel model featuring a continuous burst rate of five frames per second.

Aimed at professional photographers it carried a launch price of around £3,500.

In addition to providing photo equipment, Nikon helps train astronauts to use its cameras.