C OL U MBI A’ S LEGACY

NPhoto - - Close-up -

On 1 Fe­bru­ary 2003, the Space Shut­tle Columbia dis­in­te­grated upon re-en­ter­ing the Earth’s at­mos­phere, killing all seven as­tro­nauts. The con­se­quences of the tragedy were many, but one was a change in the way pic­tures were taken in space from then on

How have the cam­eras changed in the 12 years you’ve been work­ing in space?

The ma­jor change is that when I first flew in 2002-03, we were pri­mar­ily us­ing film. We had the Has­sel­blads and the Nikon F3 in or­bit, and the whole gamut of lenses. I was on Sta­tion when Columbia hap­pened. That ba­si­cally put an end to film be­cause we didn’t fly shut­tles for two-and-a-half years. We had no way to get film down, so that ba­si­cally killed film off. For­tu­nately, by that time the pro­fes­sional-level dig­i­tal still cam­eras were start­ing to come into their own. On Sta­tion we had the Ko­dak/Nikon 760 cam­era, which was a hy­brid cam­era with a Nikon frame and a Ko­dak sen­sor. As soon as Columbia hap­pened, we switched from film and did noth­ing but dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, be­cause all those images can be down­loaded. num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als who have flown into space is pretty small; it’s about 350 to 400 in­di­vid­u­als in to­tal who have left the planet. More peo­ple have climbed Mount Ever­est. You want to share th­ese ex­plo­rations with peo­ple who don’t get the chance to go, and one of the best ways to do that is with pho­tog­ra­phy.

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