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