Here are my top ten 2011 space-related photos taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. It’s so hard to pick only ten photos, I’ve decided to create several fav foto lists in different categories.
Tag Archives: Atlantis
“In life, there are no ordinary moments. Most of us never really recognize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening.” — Kathleen Magee
One week ago today, STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on Earth for the final time.
Last Thursday, I left my Cocoa Beach hotel at 3:00 a.m. to head out to the Kennedy Space Center to meet the space tweeps who would share this historic moment STS-135 Landing Tweetup with us.
I’d never seen a Space Shuttle landing before. This would be my first…and last.
After checking in all our landing tweeps, we boarded the bus around 4:30 a.m. — Zero-Dark Thirty!!! We waited for news of STS-135 Atlantis in orbit. Only at Deorbit Burn could we head out to the landing strip.
Ah the anticipation. But still, it was really, REALLY early. Thankfully, some came well-equipped with Red Bull and Energy Drinks!!
We received news of Deorbit Burn! WooHoo! Our bus driver pulled out of the parking lot. We were on our way.
Once we arrived, we headed to the viewing stands. I was hoping the sun would defy nature and rise early so we could see Atlantis drop from the skies. But no. Still dark.
As we waited for Atlantis to land, the Expedition 28 crew onboard the International Space Station streaked across the sky at 17,500 mph. What an amazing treat to wave to @Astro_Ron Garan, Mike @Astro_Aggie Fossum and their crewmates 220 miles overhead.
Atlantis landed just a few minutes after Station crossed the sky. I expected to cry, but instead, I squealed and giggled. This was my first landing. It was more first than last to me. I felt incredibly giddy.
What a treat to be part of history!
We all boarded the bus again, and said goodbye back at the media badging building. @WinObs rode off into the sunrise on his bike, but before he left, he posed with @Camilla_SDO.
I headed back to Cocoa Beach to check out of my hotel and grab breakfast with Madi Sengupta and Mary Lynne Dittmar. Next we headed over to the launch pads of our past — Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury. The Apollo pad is well cared for. Gemini and Mercury, not so much. Walking among the ruins, I imagined ghosts of rocket boys with crew cuts and slide rulers who paved the way for the Space Shuttle generation.
One of the highlights of the day: attending the employee celebration with Atlantis post flight! Here is my first view of Atlantis, the star of the party.
Thank you Stephanie Schierholz for making the landing tweetup happen. What a glorious day. Sad because it’s the end. But what a wonderful 30 years we’ve had!
Time to head to the airport. On the way, I pulled over to take a picture of space melons. Only on the space coast…! ;)
On the flight home, the flight attendant read aloud a note someone gave him, recognizing the last Space Shuttle landing and the end of an era, as well as the NASA Administrator in the front row and other NASA employees on the flight. The passengers broke into applause. Tears streamed down my face. The end. It finally hit me.
“To achieve the impossible, it is PRECISELY the UNthinkable that MUST be thought.” Tim Robbins
How many times have you shared an idea, only to be told it would never work? While you’re busy counting, I can tell you I lost count several lifetimes ago.
Visionaries “envision” the end product in their heads. Realizing that vision, now that’s the heart of the adventure. The barriers to success are built upon layers of “no way” or “you’re crazy” or “not on my watch.”
Think about the dreamers who designed the magnificent reusable space vehicle we know as the Space Shuttle. Though they believed winged flight from space back to Earth was possible, could they ever have imagined 30 years of reliable service? Yes, we’ve experienced two tragedies, but we’ve also witnessed 20,952 orbits around Earth by the fleet — prior to next week’s final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Time in space for 134 flights: 1,320 days, one hour, 32 minutes, 44 seconds.
Prior to the final mission, STS-135, the five Orbiters traveled 537,114,016 miles.
- Columbia was the first to fly into orbit carrying John Young and Bob Crippen on April 12, 1981. She flew 27 complete missions for 121,696,993 miles and 300 days in space. The vehicle and crew were lost at the end of the STS-107, her 28th mission. (My personal story: I worked at NASA Headquarters in DC, but was in Texas with my daughter Steph for a college visit at The University of Texas. My sister lived north of Dallas. One of her friends from JSC called to ask us to go outside and look for the Orbiter in the sky. They had lost contact. Horror of horror. We only saw contrails.)
- Challenger‘s maiden flight was STS-6 on April 4, 1983. She flew nine complete missions for 995 miles and 62 days in space, before exploding at lift off on her 10th mission, STS-51L, carrying Christa McAuliffe, our first Teacher in Space. (My story: I was on maternity leave from the Johnson Space Center after the birth of baby daughter Steph. I saw the story on the news. I attended the Memorial Service with President Reagan. I came back from maternity leave to the accident investigation.)
- Discovery flew her maiden voyage in August 1984 with STS-41D. She served as the Return to Flight missions after both accidents. She flew 148,221,675 miles, 39 flights, and 365 days (ONE FULL YEAR) in space. As the most seasoned Orbiter, Discovery retired first following the STS-133 mission.
- Endeavour is the baby of the fleet. She was the last built, ordered to replace Challenger. She flew her first mission, STS-49, in May, 1992. She retired second after flying 122,883,151 miles and 25 missions and 299 days in space through her final mission, STS-134.
- Atlantis flew first on October 3, 1985 during the STS-51J mission. She is the last operational vehicle in the Space Shuttle fleet. Prior to this final mission, she’s completed 32 flights and 120,650,907 miles and 293 days in space.
Over the last 30 years, the five Orbiters carried human cargo to space and back: 848 before this final flight of Atlantis, which carries a crew of four: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Wilheim. At the end of the Space Shuttle program, 852 humans can boast about riding a rocket to space and glider back to planet Earth. Think about the stories they’ll tell their grandchildren and great grandchildren — about a time when humans allowed themselves to think unthinkable thoughts. And when they did, they created something amazingly awesome: a reusable winged space plane.
If we keep thinking unthinkable thoughts, we can do unimaginable things and go unforeseenable [yes, I know this is not a word, but I like it] places.
But it takes work:
- Parents, believe your kids can do more than seems possible. Give them a leg up: support them even if it means sacrifice on your part.
- Teachers, open your students’ eyes to the wonder of the universe. One of them may be the first to build a personal spacecraft or step on Mars without the need for a bulky spacesuit.
- Bosses, give your employees an opportunity to create new products and processes. Allow them the flexibility to think outside the box without fear of retribution.
Even as we close out the Space Shuttle program, tomorrow holds great promise if we dare to dream it. So, let’s get to it!
French photographer Thierry Legault takes some amazing photographs of our spacecraft. See what I mean?
You are looking at images of Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission to Space Station. Soak in the significance of these images. We are closing out the final chapter in our nation’s Space Shuttle program. (But you already knew that, right?) So cool that we have photographers like Thierry out there caring enough to record this journey for us.
Let me share the back story of our NASA relationship with Thierry.
Note: Space Station had a totally different shape then. We were only six years into the decade-long construction project.
I saw this picture in a magazine and tracked Thierry down through his photography service in France. On April 24, 2007, I wrote him this email:
Your image of Station and Shuttle in front of the sun is absolutely FABULOUS! May we have permission to use the photo with our NASA exhibits? We would give you credit, of course! Your image is the most striking I’ve ever seen, and the fact that the Shuttle and Station are in the same shot from Earth is incredible. The general public has trouble getting excited about Station because we’ve built it in orbit. They’ve never seen it, except in our images from space. Your image allows them to touch space from home.
He contacted me almost immediately and agreed to let us use his photo. We were thrilled! For me, the story this image tells is that humans (and the things we create) are SO tiny against the awesome backdrop of the universe we live in. Wow! Plus, we can allow folks at home a glimpse of of the incredible engineering marvel we’re building UP IN SPACE.
Fast forward to August 2008, we received an email from Thierry that he was interested in taking pics of his beloved Atlantis during the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission. The only problem was, Hubble orbits 35o miles over Earth. Space Station orbits 220 miles overhead. He couldn’t afford the special lens required to capture the image — an additional 130 miles UP in the sky. He wanted to know if we had one, or were willing to buy one, so that he could record such an historic event — the final Space Shuttle repair mission to Hubble.
Intrigued, we did a bit of research to see if we had any NASA camera equipment that met the specs. Nope. Our next option was to look into purchasing the lens, but we needed to find other uses of the equipment after Thierry borrowed it for the mission. NASA photographer, Bill Ingalls, raised his hand (or more accurately, jumped up and down with glee) at the opportunity to get his hands on the lens. Done. (And, just so you know, the price of the lens dropped significantly by the time we purchased it. We snagged a great lens at a great price.)
Thierry traveled from France to Florida for the STS-125 mission. Our own excellent Bill took Thierry along with him for all his official duties, giving Thierry access to the best NASA locations to photograph the mission.
What did we get out of the deal? Incredible images of Space Shuttle Atlantis and Hubble in front of the Sun, that’s what!
The images went viral. Newspapers, websites, blogs, tweets around the world gushed about Thierry’s images of our spacecraft. What’s not to love?
Thank you Thierry for sharing your photos (and your amazing talent) with us. You’ve perfectly captured the drama and awe and wonder of space.
What an out-of-this-world sight!
Hot off the presses (or email): After posting this morning, Thierry sent me more images to share with you. How many times can I say WOW!!! Simply breathtaking!
Thierry, keep ’em coming!