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  • [Countdown to Launch - Liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavor!]

  • Becoming an astronaut was like youre walking in the clouds when you first found out that

  • youve been selected. My first spaceflight was on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, STS 113.

  • [Launch control narration]

  • Looking at Earth from space is amazingly beautiful. It’s a perspective where you can see things

  • on a scale of a half a continent.

  • Apart from everything else an astronaut does while in orbit, photography is actually part

  • of our job.

  • “I’m gonna to set up to do atmospheric airglow images.”

  • We take pictures of Earth and the surroundings of Earth; the upper atmosphere.

  • And we gotta manually do the F-Stop. We gotta manually do the focus. And nowwe

  • gotta look through this thing…”

  • These pictures in themselves represent a scientific data set recorded over now for fourteen years.

  • Astronaut imagery of Earth is an example of learning what you need to take pictures of

  • and how to take the pictures.

  • Space is a place where your normal intuition does not apply. Things don’t work the way

  • they do down here on Earth. You are moving at eight kilometers a secondthat’s fast!

  • And so you have to be able to smooth a camera at the same rate of orbital motion while youre

  • taking pictures to actually get the sharpest imagery.

  • My favorite subject is the Earth at night. Aurora is just amazingly beautiful. It’s

  • this glowing upper part of the atmosphere that crawls around like amoebas in the sky.

  • And then cities at night, the way human beings sprinkle their light bulbs around, it’s

  • a fascinating statement on how we as human beings define our urban areas.

  • In terms of the star trail pictures, the stars are moving because of the pitch axis of the

  • station. The cities move by because of your orbital motion and Earth’s rotation. There’s

  • all kinds of other delightful physics and natural phenomenon that you can see in these

  • pictures, and we can tickle our imagination and enrich our minds from this gain in knowledge.

  • When you explore a frontier, the people who explore bring back images, and bring back

  • stories about what these frontiers are like. I feel an obligation to share this experience,

  • so that everybody else can at least participate through the eyes of the people who do go into

  • the frontiers.

  • I’m Don Pettit. I’m a photographer and an astronaut.

[Countdown to Launch - Liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavor!]

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