Photographer Michael Soluri was granted unprecedented access to document the people and events behind the final Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4, STS-125, which launched in 2009. He has published these images in a new book, “Infinite Worlds: People & Places of Space Exploration.” Soluri has provided Universe Today with an exclusive gallery of images from the book, and also told us about his experiences in being able to follow for three years the behind the scenes lead-up to the mission.
Read his account and see more images below. You can read our full review of Infinite Worlds here.
From a very early age following the space program and over the decades as a documentary photographer on location at various NASA flight centers, I always felt something was missing: an honest, unscripted visual sense of the people behind the scenes that make human and robotic space flight possible.
Yes, it’s always inspiring to experience and photograph a rocket launch with remote equipment or from 3 miles away. However, the access pattern over time has been the same. Writers and photographers herded together into controlled situations that in the end capture the same shot. Given security issues, this is understandable and the results over the decades are predictable.
To achieve the results experienced in Infinite Worlds required earning the trust of both the crew as well as Hubble and shuttle flight management. That trust contributed to being asked by the STS-125 crew to coach them in making better more visually communicative images of their experiences at Hubble. It also enabled me to be a part of and be accepted into the many worlds of that mission during good times and challenging ones.
The edited results comprise my book and exhibitions. Looking back on that journey, I am humbled by the mutual respect and trust extended to me by a remarkable, “made in the USA” labor force that for the most part no longer exists.
— Michael Soluri
Several of Soluri’s images of the SM4’s EVA tools and photos by the Atlantis crew are part of an exhibition at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity, on view at the Air and Space Museum through June 8. There’s also an online exhibition. Smithsonian Associates is the presenting organization.
Soluri will give a presentation and do a book signing on April 11, 2015 at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden. Soluri will be joined by four individuals who played key roles in Service Mission SM4: astronaut Scott Altman, the STS-125 shuttle commander; David Leckrone, senior project scientist; Christy Hansen, EVA spacewalk flight controller and astronaut instructor; and Hubble systems engineer Ed Rezac. More information on that event can be found here.