Tag Archives: Astronaut

Pictures of the Week: September 7 – September 14

squido lense .

From ceremonies commemorating September 11th and attacks on U.S. linkwheel . Embassies around the world to the Pencil Nebula in space and playtime weightlifting in North Korea, TIME presents the best images of the week.

Last Launch: Dan Winters and the Shuttle Program

All space missions begin in violence. Traveling through the cosmic void may be a smooth and utterly silent thing, but getting off the ground in the first place is a feat achieved only with massive engines, silos of fuel and the controlled explosions they’re designed to produce. Those explosions can do a lot of damage, which is why no one—save the astronauts themselves, who willingly climb inside all that erupting hardware—have ever been allowed to get anywhere near a rocket when it’s taking off. That fact can be murder on the business of launch pad photography.

Dan Winters

Last Launch book cover, to be published by the University of Texas Press, October 2012.

It’s one of the great ironies of journalism that it’s a lot easier to capture close-up images of the murderous business of war than of the peaceable work of putting people and payloads in space. But the rules are as strict as they are extreme: On launch days, rockets sit at the middle of a circular evacuation zone that, in the case of the space shuttles and the old Saturn V’s, stretched up to three miles in all directions. That no-go rule has never diminished the demand for arm’s-length images of the liftoffs—and satisfying that demand has called for some creative thinking, engineering and camera-rigging on the part of the people taking the pictures.

Dan Winters, who grew up during the golden age—the Cronkite Age—of space reporting, is one of the photographers who has mastered the craft best. As the images that follow—taken from his new book, Last Launch—show, he has proven himself a virtuoso at his work. His pictures can practically singe your eyebrows and set you squinting with their brilliance, while at the same time capturing the black smoke and deep clouds that are often the counterpoint to the fires of liftoff.

Dan Winters

Setting up before a launch

The work begins the day before launch, when he positions up to nine cameras as little as 700 ft. (213 m) away from the pad. Each camera is manually focused and set for the particular shot it is meant to capture, and the wheels of the lens are then taped into position so that they can’t be shaken out of focus when the engines are lit. Electronic triggers—of Winters’ own devising—that do react to the vibrations are attached to the cameras so that the shutter will start snapping the instant ignition occurs.

To prevent the cameras from tipping over on their tripods, Winters drills anchoring posts deep into the soil and attaches the tripods to them with the same tie-down straps truckers use to secure their loads. He also braces each leg of the tripod with 50-lb. (23 kg) sandbags to minimize vibration. Waterproof tarps protect the whole assembly until launch day, when they are removed and the cameras are armed. Throughout the launch, they fire at up to five frames per second. Only after the vehicle has vanished into the sky and the pad crew has inspected the area for brushfires, toxic residue and other dangers, are the photographers allowed to recover their equipment.

Earlier in his career, Winters, like all photographers, shot with traditional film. “Back then,” he says, “after shooting … there was still the wait until the film was actually processed—which seemed like an eternity.” For the three liftoffs in Winters’ book, including STS-135, the 2011 launch of the Atlantis that was the last ever shuttle flight, he used digital equipment.

The shuttles have now been mothballed, never to fly again. Other, unmanned rockets are already flying and other American astronauts will surely go aloft from Cape Canaveral before too many years have gone by. But until then, the old shuttles endure in images like Winters’—which will prove to be far more permanent than the great machines themselves.

Last Launch will be available through the University of Texas Press in October, 2012.

Dan Winters is an award-winning photographer based in Austin, Los Angeles and Savannah. Winters recently photographed the cover for TIME’s military suicides story. Previously, TIME assigned Winters to shoot The Last Liftoff: A Farewell to the Shuttle Program.

 

Exclusive from NASA: The New Tallest Building in New York City, From Above

Most of us weren’t drifting over Manhattan at an altitude of 243 mi. (390 km) on March 11 at 8:09 AM, but Anatoly Ivanishin and the other crewmembers of the International Space Station were. Ivanishin had a camera with a 1,200 mm lens in his hand and he snapped this image of what he saw below. It was a Sunday morning, so the streets were quiet—though that kind of detail would not have been discernible from orbit. The skies were clear, however, and that was what allowed such a detailed, almost pointillist portrait to be captured. The picture is taken with north at the left, and as you get your bearings, other landmarks become clear. Central Park is the long grassy rectangle in the middle of Manhattan. The waterway at the bottom is, of course, the Hudson River, with Hoboken and the other towns of eastern New Jersey lining the shore. The LaGuardia Airport runways are visible at the top of the image near the left side.

Most poignant—if least conspicuous—are the sawtooth shadows extending from the southwest edge of Manhattan into the Hudson. The longest tooth of them all is cast by the new World Trade tower, which on April 30, the same day NASA released the image to TIME, once again became the tallest building in New York. The Empire State Building, which regained the crown on Sept. 11, 2001, now trails the new building—which stands at 1,271 ft. (387 m)—by 21 ft. (6.4 m). The World Trade tower will get much taller (and the shadow will get much longer) still, when it finally tops out at 1,776 ft. (541 m) sometime next year. The decade-old wound in lower Manhattan has not completely closed, but it’s close—and even from space, that healing shows.

Correction: an earlier version of this post identified the astronaut who took this photograph as Don Pettit.

Explosions in the Sky: The Cygnus Loop Nebula

If you’d been here several thousand years ago and looked up in the sky on a clear night, you’d have seen a very small, but very bright object flaring brilliantly some 1,500 light-years away. That would have been the massive supernova that gave birth to what is now the lovely and wispy Cygnus Loop Nebula. It’s not certain just when the blast would have been visible on Earth; it occurred 5,000 to 8,000 years ago and in any event, it would have taken 1,500 years for its light to reach us. What is certain though is that the Cygnus Loop—here captured by the cameras aboard NASA’s Galaxy Evolution explorer—is a stunner. The nebula extends more than three times the size of the full moon in the night sky, and is tucked next to one of the ‘swan’s wings’ in the constellation of Cygnus. The filaments of gas and dust visible here in ultraviolet light were heated by the shockwave from the supernova, which is still spreading outward from the original explosion.

To see more photographs from space check out Our Beautiful Planet: Images from Space by an Astronaut Photographer.

TIME Picks the Most Surprising Photos of 2011

The year 2011 brought us dramatic and unexpected images from some of the world’s major news events, including the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, the violent end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule and the humiliating tweet that ruined New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s career. But beyond the widely seen and iconic images that accompanied the year’s biggest events, like the death of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, were unusual, equally astonishing and startling images that rested at the periphery of the news. A cat with two faces, rail tracks buckled by the shifting earth after a quake in New Zealand, the police rescue of a girl held hostage by her father, a suicidal bride and beautiful, abstract images taken from space by an astronaut photographer — these are just a few of the compelling and surprising images to have emerged beyond the main news cycle this year. Here, LightBox looks back at a small selection of the underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.

Neil DaCosta

Neil DaCosta has photographed a lot of things in a lot of places. He knows what it feels like to interact with nature and much of his work reflects an emotional connection to the outdoors. It would make sense that his lengthy client list is filled with publications and commercial clients that showcase an active lifestyle, but he still manages to find time to create personal work that is also poignant, lovely, timely, and dark.

Born in Massachusetts, Neil was raised in New Jersey , and went to school in New York. After graduating, he packed up his van and headed west to Utah. “I focused on snowboard photography and ended up shooting around the globe for companies like Roxy, Quiksilver, and K2 Inc. After a handful of years in the cold, I decided to branch out from snowboarding. I headed even further west, to Portland, OR and am currently shooting editorial and advertising photos, building a client roster outside of snowboarding. Although I now live at sea level, I am not afraid to put on my snowboard boots and head up the hill!”

Neil’s new project, Astronaut Suicides, created with art director Sara Phillips, makes us take a grim and darkly humorous look at the end of NASA’s space shuttle program–a program that kept us believing in a future where we reached for something more.

Astronaut Suicides: This series was inspired by JFK’s historic speech at Rice University which speaks to the achievements and aspirations of the times, and to recognize that the power of the sentiment is still relevant today.”We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” John F Kennedy, September 12 1962.

We felt that this line from one of President Obama’s speeches really bookended the end of an Era: “I understand that some believe that we should return to the surface of the moon but I have to say this bluntly, we have been there before.”

We wanted to acknowledge the end of an era in a visual way that would bring the conversation to the creative community. The incongruity of the astronaut in these situations is, we hope, compelling and humorous, and we hope that we’re encouraging a younger audience to pay attention to what’s going on.

Selected images from Neil’s Summer Journal

Neil DaCosta

Neil DaCosta has photographed a lot of things in a lot of places. He knows what it feels like to interact with nature and much of his work reflects an emotional connection to the outdoors. It would make sense that his lengthy client list is filled with publications and commercial clients that showcase an active lifestyle, but he still manages to find time to create personal work that is also poignant, lovely, timely, and dark.

Born in Massachusetts, Neil was raised in New Jersey , and went to school in New York. After graduating, he packed up his van and headed west to Utah. “I focused on snowboard photography and ended up shooting around the globe for companies like Roxy, Quiksilver, and K2 Inc. After a handful of years in the cold, I decided to branch out from snowboarding. I headed even further west, to Portland, OR and am currently shooting editorial and advertising photos, building a client roster outside of snowboarding. Although I now live at sea level, I am not afraid to put on my snowboard boots and head up the hill!”

Neil’s new project, Astronaut Suicides, created with art director Sara Phillips, makes us take a grim and darkly humorous look at the end of NASA’s space shuttle program–a program that kept us believing in a future where we reached for something more.

Astronaut Suicides: This series was inspired by JFK’s historic speech at Rice University which speaks to the achievements and aspirations of the times, and to recognize that the power of the sentiment is still relevant today.”We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” John F Kennedy, September 12 1962.

We felt that this line from one of President Obama’s speeches really bookended the end of an Era: “I understand that some believe that we should return to the surface of the moon but I have to say this bluntly, we have been there before.”

We wanted to acknowledge the end of an era in a visual way that would bring the conversation to the creative community. The incongruity of the astronaut in these situations is, we hope, compelling and humorous, and we hope that we’re encouraging a younger audience to pay attention to what’s going on.

Selected images from Neil’s Summer Journal