NASA reveals incredible photo taken during 9/11 terror attacks
NASA has remembered the September 11 terror attacks by sharing an incredible photograph taken by the only American astronaut on the International Space Station in 2001.
This week marks 17 years since four commercial planes were hijacked in the US, with two being flown into New York’s World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon in Washington DC and one crashing in a field in Pennsylvania, killing a total of nearly 3000 people and injuring more than 6000 others.
The image, taken by Station Commander Frank Culbertson of Expedition 3 on the morning of September 11, 2001, shows a large plume of smoke drifting across Manhattan from ground zero.
Commander Culbertson took the photo moments after American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Centre.
NASA posted the photograph to its website with Commander Culbertson sending a message of support to the victims and their families.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to all the people there, and everywhere else,” he said.
— NASA (@NASA)
Commander Culbertson was the only American astronaut on the Space Station at the time of the attack and said he had just finished some routine morning tasks before he received a phone call from a flight surgeon about the attack.
“I was flabbergasted, then horrified,” he said.
“My first thought was that this wasn’t a real conversation, that I was still listening to one of my Tom Clancy tapes.”
Commander Culbertson described feeling completely isolated as he viewed the destruction from space through the lens of his camera.
“The smoke seemed to have an odd bloom to it at the base of the column that was streaming south of the city,” he said.
“I panned the camera all along the East Coast to the south to see if I could see any other smoke around Washington, or anywhere else, but nothing was visible.”
Commander Culbertson said seeing the “wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point” was horrible.
“The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the Earth and watching life being destroyed by such wilful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are,” he said.
“And the knowledge that everything will be different than when we launched by the time we land is a little disconcerting.
“Other than the emotional impact of our country being attacked and thousands of our citizens and maybe some friends being killed, the most overwhelming feeling being where I am is one of isolation.”