Shuttle and ISS

Space travel involved taking risks and making sacrifices. Among many sacrifices were really expensive cameras. When astronauts came back from the moon, they left their Hasselblads on the moon to make space for moon rocks. After Paolo Nespoli took the above photo, he left his three Nikons to fiery destruction.

It was the ultimate photo-op: the first ever – and the last possible – photo of a space shuttle docked to the International Space Station. (Previously, only photos of  Atlantis docked to the Mir Space Station were taken — back in 1995.) It was taken on May 23rd 2011, during Endeavor’s last mission, and months of preparation and negotiation went into the making of this photo. Officials from the US and Russia arranged to overlap Endeavor’s mission with Soyuz’s, so that someone can take these photos.

The honor was given to the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli who was leaving the ISS with Soyuz. Cape Canaveral and Moscow also agreed to rotate the ISS 130 degrees to give Nespoli the full view. However, Soyuz allows no extra weight aboard the descent module. After taking out the SD cards, Nespoli left $20,000 worth of cameras in the orbital module, which destructs in the Earth’s atmosphere. Since Soyuz is also not equipped to transmit the photos, the world didn’t see the photos until Nespoli landed back.

You can see all the photos and videos he took here. One day, they will no doubt be in textbooks, showing two of the most expensive things mankind has ever built.

And we will say, never was so much spent on so few things to achieve so little.

And we will say, what a wonderful age it was. What a wonderful age it is.

12 thoughts on “Shuttle and ISS

    • Beautiful image, less beautiful post. I have really enjoyed the descriptions and editorials of photos on this site, up until this space shuttle series. Sure, it was overpriced, what government project isn’t? But there are so many worse things that we as a species have devoted our time and research to, when compared to the extraordinary journey of man into space. One need only read this article to learn some of the more tangible products of NASA over the years:

  1. While I honestly enjoy reading your blog and learn a lot from most of your posts, I simply cannot agree with most of the comments you have made about the space program, especially the variants of “And we will say, never was so much spent on so few things to achieve so little.” you have mentioned several times in the last few posts.

    Not all achievements can be judged from a single point of view. The space program, along with the space shuttle and space station(s), gave rise to many new technologies that are mainstream today and even that makes it all worthwhile, but apart from that it was a testament, or it was in my opinion, to human will and imagination. While the program might be misguided in parts and was not able to reach its full potential, it was a technological and scientific demonstration of humanity. I sometimes feel there is no difference between a sculpture signifying the human spirit and the shuttles and station that signifies our capabilities. Not everything has an immediate return and not everything has to have an immediate return (or any return at all).

  2. “And we will say, never was so much spent on so few things to achieve so little.”
    An I say.. you are so wrong. The complete mars rover project costs around one billion USD. Go and see the cost of just one day of Iraq or Afghanistan war and you would find that all that we have done in space is spent for only few months in wartime.
    The SETI institute has been reduced to few people trying to get the funds because the government has taken their institute out of their payroll. And no one has ever questioned the expenses for A/C in the Afghan deserts…

  3. “And we will say, never was so much spent on so few things to achieve so little.”
    Can you actually back this statement with some facts?

  4. I have been a subscriber of this blog since the day I first found it. Today I have removed it from my RSS reader.

    The negative tone of the last several posts in regards to the shuttle program specifically and NASA in general have driven me away.

    I have seen pictures on this site of war, death, destruction – some of man at its worst. However, you seem to have reserved your greatest vitriol for these recent posts.

    You are entitled to your opinions for sure, I just won’t be coming back for them. Best of luck in the future.

  5. The amount spent on space exploration is dwarfed by the blank cheque unquestioningly gifted to defence.

    Five hundred years ago the amount that the Spanish kingdoms spent on the exploration of the new world was negligable when compared to the cost of military campaigns in Andalusia, north Africa and Italy.

    plus ca change…

  6. A very well written post.I like the last line of this post that is “And we will say, what a wonderful age it was. What a wonderful age it is.”.Pic is so wonderful it captured very nicely.

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