Inspiring the public and ourselves

This picture of Tracy Caldwell-Dyson in the cupola of the ISS is not computer generated; it is not “photoshopped”, it is not something from a virtual reality program. 

It is real reality. 

And a work of art

What is she thinking?  

What would you think if you were there? 

When can I go and find out for myself? 

About waynehale

Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions, and is currently a consultant and full time grandpa. He is available for speaking engagements through Special Aerospace Services.
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14 Responses to Inspiring the public and ourselves

  1. Bill Foster says:

    Well said, Flight!

  2. Rick Varner says:

    I am always fascinated by the views of our earth from space and how life changing it could be for those fortunate enough to experience them first hand. Once the commercial tourist flights begin, there will be more images and comments from other prespectives. I hope someone sponsors an artist or poet for this experience 🙂

    Most of NASA’s multimedia can be found in one location or another, this includes many of the interviews where you might glean some insights into the thoughts of the astronauts from these amazing moments in their lives.

    related to Tracy’s most recent mission:
    (APOD: NASA Photo)
    (YouTube: Recorded interview from space)

  3. Karen says:

    What beautiful windows. 😉

  4. Steve says:


    I can only quote others because tonight looking at that picture my own words fail me. I understand if you can only publish one.

    Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.
    — Socrates

    Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see . . .
    — Charles A. Lindbergh, ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’

    The most beautiful dream that has haunted the heart of man since Icarus is today reality.
    — Louis Bleriot

    [I’m] getting housemaid’s knee kneeling here gulping beauty.
    — Amelia Earhart, comment in logbook, 1928.

    For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
    — Vincent Van Gogh

    Anyone who has spent any time in space will love it for the rest of their lives. I achieved my childhood dream of the sky.
    — Valentina Tereshkova

    Are we lost, or are we found at last?
    On earth we strive for our various needs, because so goes the fundamental law of man. Aloft, at least for a little while, the needs disappear. Likewise the striving.
    In the thoughts of man aloft, food and evil become mixed and sometimes reversed. This is the open door to wisdom.
    Aloft, the earth is ancient and man is young, regardless of his numbers, for there, aloft he may reaffirm his suspicions that he may not be so very much. This is the gateway to humility.
    And yet, aloft there are moments when man can ask himself, “what am I, this creature so important to me? Who is it rules me from birth to tomb? Am I but a slave destined to crawl for labor to hearth and back again? Am I but one of the living dead, or my own god set free?” This is the invitation to full life. . . .
    “Where are we?”
    “If you really must know, I’ll tell you.”
    “Never mind. Here aloft, we are not lost, but found.”
    — Ernest K. Gann, ‘Ernest K. Gann’s Flying Circus,’

  5. Lewis Van Atta says:

    What would I think if I were there?

    — GOOD LORD, what a view!!!

    –Oh Lord, thy universe is so large and my spacecraft so small (a variation on the old seafarer’s prayer?)

    Strangely enough, I’m not really a very religious or spiritual person…but this is what this fantastic photo makes me think of.

  6. Gene Mikulka says:

    When Doug Wheelock posted this on Twitter I though the same things. It reminded me of a peice of artwork that I saw on a calendar years ago. But this wasn’t something out of ‘2001’ real but reality. However only a select few would have the honor of looking out that window.

    I’m with you, Id love to find out what my thoughts would be looking out a window like that.

    When do we all us go to find out?

  7. Tim Doggett says:

    I never thought the ISS would be complete without the cupola. This photo is a testament to the validity of that opinion.

  8. P. Savio says:

    Just another day at the Office….but what an Office!!

  9. Dave H. says:

    Having seen the cupola close up as it sat in the ISS Processing Facility on December 3rd, 2004, all I can say is that not everyone is my size, or Mike Massimino’s size either! Mike and I are approximately the same height and weight.
    The outside is nearly 3 meters across, so if you give up one meter for structure you end up with something that’s nearly 80 inches across…plenty of room to accomodate most folks.

    What is she thinking? As a man who’s been married for nearly 31 years, the truth is “who knows”, but I’ll play along and say that she’s musing about every step along her life’s path that got her there. Maybe she’s wishing upon a star…

    “What would you think if you were there?”

    Funny you should ask…I’d be thinking about the day we toured KSC and getting the cupola where it is now was still a dream…thinking about all of the hard work by so many people to get the program back on its feet in the wake of Columbia…thinking about how that work actually linked Challenger and Columbia forever by allowing Barbara Morgan to complete Christa McAuliffe’s legacy…and thinking about everything that led to my having been able to contribute to making it all happen.

    I guess that when you weep in space your tears float free…

    “When can I go and find out for myself?”

    I’ll tell you what…we’ll meet up in Heaven, and we’ll come back after we’ve figured out how to go FTL.

  10. Mark Ross says:

    I practically gasped when I first saw this photo!

    I have been struggling for some time to understand and agree that the ISS is providing value to us all. I know it’s doing great science, but I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth the expense and effort. I know we in NASA don’t do a good enough job getting the word out on what they’re actually doing up there, beyond building the station and maintaining it. And if someone like me who’s in the space industry doesn’t “get it”, how much less the general American public?

    Then I saw this photo, and I understood. Just the opportunity to allow one of us leisure time to contemplate our planet from as cool a vantage point as the cupola seems to me to make it all worth it. This photo should get its 15 minutes on national news sites.

  11. Ruben says:

    I consider myself pretty well-read on the STS/ISS, but had not seen this incredible photo. Thank you Mr. Hale for posting it as well as your always-illuminating observations.

  12. Mike Rodriggs says:

    One of my very favorite space photos! I have it hanging in my office (and I’m looking at it right now). Tracy is a dear friend of mine. It’s a beautiful shot of earth from the ISS. It makes me feel like I’m right next to her, looking out with her. A beautiful astronaut looking at the beautiful earth from the beautiful ISS. Sigh.

  13. Mike Rodriggs says:

    Janice Voss once told me that one of her fondest memories on orbit was reading Asimov by earthlight while sitting in the pilot’s seat of the shuttle during one of her shuttle missions. Would have loved a photo of that.

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