KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Unprecedented and spectacular photos showing a US Space Shuttle Orbiter docked to the International Space Station (ISS) were snapped just hours ago and transmitted live back to ground stations and viewers on Earth as a Soyuz capsule with three space flyers departed from the station at 5:35 p.m EDT on the first leg of their journey back to Earth. And the best is yet to come.
Check out the photo galley of historic black and white gems captured from an engineering docking camera attached to the nose of the Russian Soyuz capsule that undocked this evening (May 23) from the ISS. These historic photos are the first ever showing a shuttle joined to the massive orbiting complex.
As the Soyuz was backing away from the Russian-built Rassvet module, Italian Astronaut Paolo Nespoli was busily snapping first of its kind high resolution color photos and videos of Space Shuttle Endeavour attached to the ISS.
The entire complex was simultaneously rotated 130 degrees to provide the best possible view of the whole shuttle-station stack. The combined stack weighs more than a million pounds
Nespoli had about 30 minutes to collect high resolution digital imagery from a viewing port inside the habitation module of the Soyuz spacecraft that burns up on reentry. He then removed the cards from the cameras and floated back into the Soyuz descent module.
NASA and Russia expect to release high resolution digital imagery on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The three person Expedition 27 crew comprising of Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli landed safely in their Soyuz spacecraft on the Kazakhstan steppe Monday at 10:27 p.m. (8:27 a.m. on May 24 local time) at a site southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan.
Shuttle Endeavour is in the middle of the 16 day STS-134 mission and delivered the $2 Billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. The AMS is a particle physics detector searching for the invisible Universe and seeks to elucidate its birth and evolution. The all veteran crew of 6 is led by Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly.
Read my related stories about the STS-134 mission here:
Ultimate ISS + Shuttle + Earth Photo Op Coming on May 23 from Soyuz and Paolo Nespoli
Endeavour Blasts Off on Her 25th and Final Mission
Endeavour Unveiled for Historic Final Blastoff
Looking to the Heavens with Endeavour; Launch Pad Photo Special
Endeavour Astronauts Arrive at Cape for May 16 Launch
NASA Sets May 16 for Last Launch of Endeavour; Atlantis Slips to July
Endeavour’s Final Launch further delayed another Week or more
On the Cusp of Endeavour’s Final Flight
Brush Fires Erupt at Kennedy Space Center during Endeavour’s Last Countdown
Commander Mark Kelly and STS-134 Crew Arrive at Kennedy for Endeavour’s Final Flight
President Obama to Attend Endeavour’s Last Launch on April 29
Shuttle Endeavour Photo Special: On Top of Pad 39A for Final Flight
Endeavour Mated to Rockets for Last Flight Photo Album
Endeavour Rolls to Vehicle Assembly Building for Final Flight