Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Space Shuttle Project

Being a photographer is quite wonderful.  Sure, I am doing without a steady paycheck that shows up every two weeks, but I have a certain freedom that allows me to experience and document the most amazing things.  I have written here before about some of the wonderful people I've met, and the places I've been.  But this project might go down as one of my all-time favorites.

I am working with Lightspeed Media to document the end of the Space Shuttle era.  We are taking photos and video of the last two shuttles as they are being prepared for their final missions.
Above you see the nose section of the Shuttle Atlantis.  The one thing I hadn't counted on is each one of the orbiters is completely covered up by scaffolding.  We were hoping for great wide-angle shots of the vehicles with workers swarming all around.  But most of the surface area is hidden from view.  In fact this nose area was completely covered up the day before, so when I saw it exposed I knew I had to grab a shot.
The one area that is fairly open and busy with activity is the underside of the shuttle.  I took this image standing at the rear of the vehicle.  Here you can see the left wing in the foreground, looking towards the front of the shuttle in the distance.  The flaps are locked in the up position for the moment, and the landing gear door is open.  If you look closely you might be able to tell that the landing gear is down, and the tires have been taken off.

Above is the Shuttle Endeavour, waiting for it's two lower engines to be installed.  The scaffolding on the right side of the image swings into place to work on the engines and the rear of the shuttle.
This is the cargo bay of the Atlantis.  The bay doors were recently opened so that work can begin in this area.  You can see in the background the platforms that will lowered over the doors to protect them while the engineers do their work.
And here is a shot of me helping photographer Bob Fisher install 3-D time lapse cameras that will take images of the work being done on the shuttle over the next month or so.  The cargo bay is behind me, and if you look closely you can see that this shot is a day after the previous one.  The platforms have been lowered and locked into place over the cargo bay doors. 

As I mentioned some months ago; I grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, watching rockets blast into space while I played on the playground at school.  I remember the excitement of standing on the beach watching the first shuttle launch.  And as the program draws to a close I am thrilled to be documenting the last one.  I will be posting more photos from this project as it progresses.

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