June 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM ET
One day after unveiling still images from the "ultimate space photo op," showing the shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station docked in orbit, NASA upped the ante by releasing the high-definition video footage from the same photo op on May 23. The video clips, like the stills, were captured on camera by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli as he and two crewmates were leaving the station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The video and the stills were brought down to earth on data storage cards that had to go through Russian cargo processing before they could be released, which explains why it took two weeks for the imagery to hit the Web. You can see wide-angle shots as well as close-ups in the seven and a half minutes' worth of clips. Perhaps the most poignant part comes in the final two minutes or so, when the space station moves off into the distance ... eventually fading away to a speck of light.
Only one space shuttle flight remains, with the launch of Atlantis due on July 8, and there are no plans for a similar fly-around during that mission. So this may be the only video ever seen in which a space shuttle and the space station appear together.
Yet another out-of-this-world perspective on this scene has been caught on video — strangely enough, from our own world. Check out this somewhat fuzzier view of the shuttle-station complex, as seen through Thierry Legault's telescope from the south of France on May 29. Like Nespoli, Legault has made a name for himself through his astrophotography. Click on the links below to see more of his amazing pictures:Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter. Also, give a look to "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.