Space Shuttle Launch Photographed From Outer Space

An interesting photo sent to me by my buddy Nick who works at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL.  The International Space Station happened to be directly overhead two shuttle launches ago (last September).  One of the astronauts up there snapped this picture of the launch from a window in the space station.  I thought it was pretty cool.


Update (2-6-07): A few site visitors have pointed out that this photo was actually taken at much lower altitude than the ISS resides at.  It seems as though the Kennedy employees that gave the photo to Nick were just messing with him.  I know nothing about avionics, so I was equally fooled.  See the comments on this post for further details.  I apologize for the inaccuracy of this post.


  1. says

    Incorrect, this is an old myth started by another blog site. The ISS is 230 miles high. This is taken from 60,000 ft, by the WB-71 chase plane. See’s forum (where these images have been taken from) for proof.

    The ISS was also 4,000 miles away at launch.

    Response from Marc:

    I stand corrected. My buddy Nick just started working at Kennedy about a month ago as an entry level hardware engineer. He doesn’t know anything about avionics, and neither do I. So maybe some of the guys over there were just picking on the new guy. Thanks for the correction.

  2. Marty says

    Not from outer space (the ISS isn’t even in outer space, it’s in Low Earth Orbit), but that’s over 200 miles high. These are taken from the chase plane at 60,000 feet. The ISS is usually over near Europe during a Shuttle launch as it is.

  3. Derek B says

    This is not from space. And this doesn’t look remotely high enough to be from the International Space Station… As an experienced former commercial jet pilot, I can assure you taht this is vastly sub-orbital, in fact, not even mesospheric.

    Looks like it might have been taken from a high-altitude observation jet.

    FYI, the International Space Station orbits in a range from 425km to 278km above earth… Google any image from it and you’ll note much more curvature and lower ground resolution than what is presented here.

  4. aerocapture says

    The photos were taken from NASA’s WB-57 “Canberra” research aircraft, which can operate up to about 60,000 feet. Originally conceived as a Korean-War-era long range bomber, the Canberra was used mostly for high-altitude reconnaissance, where it was deployed throughout the world in areas of suspected atmospheric testing of nuclear devices.

    Today, NASA operates the only two operational aircraft left in the world, and uses them to observe weather and monitor Space Shuttle launches for anomalies on ascent.

    More discussion of these images can be found on this forum:

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