NASA has at last today (June 7) released the spectacular portrait photos of Endeavour docked at the International Space Station (ISS). These are are the first ever images taken of a space shuttle while still attached to the orbiting lab complex from the perspective of a crewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The breathtaking digital images were captured by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli on May 23 through a window inside the Soyuz TMA-20 vehicle as he and two crewmates were departing the ISS for their return trip to Earth.
Story Update: Check out the expanded photo gallery of more awesome images released by NASA later today
The ISS/Shuttle stack and Soyuz were flying at an altitude of 220 miles as the Soyuz undocked with Nespoli, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman. After they were about 600 feet away, Mission Control Moscow commanded the ISS to rotate 130 degrees to give a full view of the entire complex from the side.
Nespoli then had about 30 minutes to capture high resolution digital photos and videos of Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to the orbiting lab for the very last time in the midst of her 16 day long final mission; STS-134.
The Soyuz trio landed safely in Kazakhstan later that day.
The imagery was to have been made public a day or two after the landing. But Nespoli accidentally left the SD data cards behind in the Soyuz vehicle, causing them to processed more slowly as part of routine post flight analysis.
Space Shuttle Endeavour and ISS Portrait Photo Gallery
NASA’s expanding photo gallery here:
Read my earlier features about the portrait photos of Endeavour and the ISS here:
Spectacular Soyuz Photo Gallery shows Unprecedented View Of Shuttle Docked at Station
Ultimate ISS + Shuttle + Earth Photo Op Coming on May 23 from Soyuz and Paolo Nespoli
Read my features about the final mission of Endeavour, STS 134, starting here
STS-134 Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly appears at U2360° Concert in Seattle: Music Video
Era of Space Shuttle Endeavour Ends with June 1 landing at the Kennedy Space Center