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Space

Space Travel Up Close and Behind the Scenes

Photographer Dan Winters was given close-range access to photograph the last three launches of the space shuttle program.

11 PHOTOS

Mission Control console, Houston

For more than thirty years, the space shuttle program carried some of America's bravest adventurers into the great unknown of space. 135 missions allowed more than 350 people to temporarily escape Earth's gravity. Photographer Dan Winters was there for the final three missions, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis, one of a few select photographers NASA allowed to photograph at close range the launches and the shuttle facilities. 

Dan Winters
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Atlantis, left, goes into her roll program on July 8, 2011; Discovery clears the tower on Feb. 24, 2011. 

The access granted to Winters allowed him to set up as many as nine remote cameras per launch, some as close as 700 feet. "As I drive away, I watch my cameras... sitting there at the pad area, poised on their tripods. I am somehow envious that the cameras will witness the the spectacle from such a place of honor," writes Winters in "The Last Launch," a 2012 collection of his space shuttle photos.

Dan Winters
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Atlantis (detail)
Dan Winters
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Discovery (detail)
Dan Winters
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A space shuttle main engine on rolling stand.
Dan Winters
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Glove assembly for a Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU spacesuit.

Not only does the EMU protect from the extreme conditions of space, it is in itself a mobile life support system. 

Dan Winters
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A space suit torso and helmet assembly at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Dan Winters
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The Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

Dan Winters
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A space suit designed for astronauts aboard the International Space Station, left, and a shuttle-era space suit. 

Winters' lifelong interest in space exploration began in 1969, when his "parents awakened me before sunrise" to watch the Apollo 11 launch. Since the end of the shuttle program, Winters has continued to photograph subjects related to space travel. 

Dan Winters
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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough completes his weight-training and cardio regimen at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in May 2016, several months ahead of his mission to the International Space Station. 

 

 

Dan Winters
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Engine exhaust nozzles on the first stage of a Saturn V rocket. 

See more Dan Winters photographs in MACH's "The Making of an Astronaut"

The Month in Space Pictures: Tiny Moons and Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Dan Winters
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