C OL U MBI A’ S LEGACY
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.