Canon Elan IIe, tripod
Sigma 170-500 w/ Tokina MC-7 2x teleconverter
Sigma 28-105
Fuji Provia 100F, pushed 2 stops
f16 at 1/350


Mission STS-112: Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis. October 7th, 2002. An International Space Station mission to place the S1 Truss in preparation for more station modules.

Me? I was about 54 km (33 mi) south, on top of a bridge across the Indian River, hoping to get something from that distance. Circumstances of the day prevented me from getting any closer, so I went for the highest point I could reach, and that was the six-story causeway across the river.

I knew I was pushing the limits of both film and lens resolution, but it was an experiment, and I could make out considerably more on film afterwards than I did in the viewfinder.


Above, a 28mm wide-angle shot showing my location and field of view, to give some idea of the distance involved.

At left is a detail enlargement, quite a bit really, from the frame at top, one of the first shots I got. At approximately 920mm focal length of a target in excess of 50 klicks away, I could still distinguish the main tank from the Solid Rocket Boosters.

Below, two shots, also enlarged, from several minutes into the flight, as the SRBs separated. The shuttle appeared to be heading downwards now, since it was nearly in orbit and traveling southeast from my location, towards Africa.

I did quite a bit of web searching to try and determine what distance the shuttle might have been at separation, but NASA hadn't provided enough details about bearing and altitude. So I performed a few calculations myself based on the known size of the SRBs, and even given some distinct variables in measurement, determined that the shuttle was definitely in excess of 100 kilometers (62 miles) from me for the last shot. I can live with the results.

STS-112-4 STS-112-5