Is This a Scene from Star Wars or a Real Image from the ISS?

by Nancy Atkinson on June 22, 2011

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ATV2 (Johannes Kepler) as it departs the ISS against the backdrop of Earth. Credit: NASA/Ron Garan

What an amazing image! The ATV-2 Johannes Kepler looks like an X-Wing fighter from Star Wars as it departed from the International Space Station. Astronaut Ron Garan posted the image on his Twitpic page, asking viewers if they thought the spacecraft looked like the fictional fighter jets of the Alliance.

The ATV-2 left the ISS and entered Earth’s atmosphere on June 21. The spacecraft had a “blackbox” on board, a Re-Entry Breakup Recorder (REBR) to monitor temperature, acceleration, rotation rate, and other data as it tumbled and disintegrated through the atmosphere. The data was sent down via a “phone call” to an Iridium satellite to help scientists better understand the physics of what happens to a spacecraft when it breaks up on re-entry.

So, enjoy one last beautiful look at the ATV-2 in this stunning image.

You can follow Universe Today senior editor Nancy Atkinson on Twitter: @Nancy_A. Follow Universe Today for the latest space and astronomy news on Twitter @universetoday and on Facebook.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

J. Major June 22, 2011 at 11:22 PM


EarthlingX June 23, 2011 at 1:15 AM

Here’s a couple more undocking images by Aleksander Samokutiaev :

Cat Smilie Kevin Crawford June 23, 2011 at 2:48 AM

amazing ,photos,,3 cheers 4 russians in space..thank u
cat smilie a CANADIAN

Andrew Reeve June 23, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Beautiful picture but i would have said more from Star Trek The Next Generation then Star Wars

Anonymous June 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

My first thought was about the German TV series Raumpatroullie Orion from the 60ies. The spaceships of the aliens (called “Frogs”) had a similar appearance.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 23, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Ist das (hier klicken), was du meinst?

Baris Bicer June 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Woah! Was that real German? After taking the time to read your comment I actually understood your sentence! I KNEW I should’ve taken German in High School, it’s so easy for English speakers to understand. Stupid counselor told me Spanish would be better….

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 23, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Yes, it was real German; yes, it’s easy for English speakers to learn German, and vice-versa. In both English and German languages, double negatives cancel one another out; whereas in Spanish (and also in French and Portuguese), double negatives intensify the negation, so it can lead to some confusion and misunderstandings between English and Spanish speakers.

Anonymous June 23, 2011 at 8:56 PM

Yeah! Exactly! :) Nice catch!

Und dein deutscher Satz ist auch richtig. :)

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 23, 2011 at 10:12 PM


Anonymous June 24, 2011 at 11:10 AM


(But don’t put that into googletranslator; it would give you a strange result. “Bitte” would result in “please”, but in this case it is the German way of saying “You’re welcome”.)

Baris Bicer June 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM

THIS. THIS is how you know you’re in the future, when you can take ACTUAL PHOTOS that look like this.

William Sparrow June 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM

A beautiful image, and it makes for a stunning desktop background!

William Sparrow June 24, 2011 at 12:00 AM

A beautiful image, and it makes a stunning desktop background!

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Yes, I know what “bitte” means, and also its alternative interjections; Google translator does gives a list of them:Please; Please do; Sorry, what did you say; Go ahead; Sure; Here you are; Pardon; Not at all; You’re welcome; That’s all right.

Anonymous June 24, 2011 at 6:18 PM

My apologies to google translator then….;)

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