Tuesday, June 07, 2011

NASA releases historic pics of shuttle at station

NASA today released highly anticipated photos taken of shuttle Endeavour docked at the International Space Station during its final flight.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli took the pictures from a Soyuz spacecraft as it backed away from the station May 23.

It was the first time a Soyuz had departed the station while a shuttle was present, offereing a unique opportunity to capture a complete picture of the shuttle together with the fully completed station.

With the Soyuz hovering 600 feet behind and slightly above the station, the outpost was rotated 130 degrees to present views of Endeavour and other docked vehicles, including another Soyuz, a Progress and Europe's ATV-2.

NASA initially released nine images, most showing Endeavour from behind and positioned at the top station floating in the blackness of space, with the shuttle's payload bay facing down toward a cloud-covered Earth.

Later images showed a stunning side view of Endeavour after the station had completed its rotatation. 

Click here to see the pictures.

Public release of the images had been expected soon after the Soyuz carrying Nespoli, American Cady Coleman and Russian Dmitry Kondratyev landed in Kazakhstan.

But it took more than two weeks because the memory cards that stored the images remained packed inside the Soyuz during its return to Moscow for post-flight processing.

NASA says it will release more digital images and high-definition video as it is porcessed.

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