- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Unprecedented photo op for shuttle-space station
HOUSTON (AP) - In an unprecedented cosmic photo shoot Monday, a departing spaceship snapped close-up glamour pictures of the space shuttle Endeavour attached to the International Space Station.
And the linked station-shuttle did what any good fashion model does. It slowly turned and pivoted on its orbital runway. That maneuver was so that Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, clicking away inside a Russian Soyuz capsule, could get good digital photos and video.
The Soyuz hovered in space while the shuttle-station rotated 129 degrees.
Minutes earlier, the Russian capsule had backed away from the space station, carrying Nespoli and two other station residents back to Earth after a five-month stay. They landed safetly about five hours later in Kazakhstan.
A Soyuz has never headed for home while a shuttle was parked at the space station. The shuttle program is ending and Endeavour is making the next-to-last flight, so it won’t happen again.
“It’s unprecedented and we worked hard to get here,” space station flight director Derek Hassmann said earlier Monday.
Nespoli took the pictures from about 600 feet _ about two football fields away. But in this era of instant gratification, NASA engineers, who said this was more for engineering than beauty purposes, were going to have to wait until Tuesday to pour over the photos.
“It’s nice, very, very nice,” Nespoli responded.
Nespoli, as planned, left the cameras in part of the Soyuz that burns up in space, but he made sure the digital photo cards returned to Earth with him. And if he didn’t do it himself, mission controllers reminded him a couple times.
This was such a one-of-a-kind event that even though Endeavour’s crew was supposed to be asleep, they were allowed to wake a couple hours early if they wanted to watch the orbital ballet.
Their departure leaves three space station residents, as well as Endeavour’s six-man crew commanded by Mark Kelly, husband of wound Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Endeavour’s final flight ends June 1.
The astronauts got another VIP call from Rome earlier Monday from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, two days after Pope Benedict XVI called. Napolitano spoke with Nespoli and the Italian member of Endeavour’s crew, Roberto Vittori. The spacemen held up an Italian flag that Vittori received from the president to mark the 150 anniversary of Italy’s unification and flapped it between them.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- CPAC 2014: Rand Paul urges conservatives to fight for liberty
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- EDITORIAL: Connecticut revolts against gun controls that could criminalize 300,000
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Two liberals say Sarah Palin is right: Obama lacks substance
- Malaysia Airlines says plane on route to Beijing missing
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Soldier who hid to avoid saluting the flag to be punished in secret; Army won't release details
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again