Astronauts Took A Fly-around of the International Space Station. Here are Their Stunning Pictures

When astronauts left the International Space Station in early November to return home on the Crew Dragon Endeavour, they took the opportunity to do a fly-around of the ISS and take photos. NASA just released the new images, and they are a stunning look at both the orbiting outpost and our home planet.

The person behind the camera was ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. He began taking photos after Crew Dragon undocked from the Harmony module. Also on board were NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, and JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide. They had spent six months aboard the ISS.

“Bittersweet feeling about leaving the ISS,” Pesquet tweeted. “When you think about it, it’s really a magical place, almost impossible to reach and which gives you superpowers like flying, or going around the world in 1h30 … It still looks a bit like a daydream.”

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA.

One of the thermal radiator panels appears to be damaged, perhaps from a debris strike. The large white structures visible in this image is part of the thermal control system. The station orbits the Earth in about 92 minutes at an altitude of around 420 km (260 miles). It experiences large fluctuations in temperatures, ranging from 93 C (200 degrees Fahrenheit) when the ISS is exposed to the sun, to about -128 C (-200 F) on the night side of the planet. The complex thermal control system keeps the interior of the ISS at a comfortable 18 to 27 °C (65 to 80? F).

The ISS has had a continuous human presence for over 21 years. The first three-person crew of Expedition 1 arrived on November 2, 2000. Since then, close to 250 people from 19 countries have have made 403 spaceflights to the ISS.

Another view of the ISS seen from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour flyaround on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA.
The ISS seen from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour flyaround on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA.
The ISS is backdropped by Earth in this photo from the SpaceX Crew Dragon on November 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA.

A few days after the Crew-2 returned home, Crew-3 launched and are now on board. Current seven-member Expedition 66 crew are Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos; Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron, all from NASA; and Matthias Maurer from ESA.

You can see the entire album of images from the fly-around on NASA’s Flickr page.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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