After more than 12 years and at least $100 billion in construction costs, NASA leaders say the International Space Station finally is ready to bloom into the robust orbiting laboratory that agency leaders envisioned more than two decades ago.
While doubts of those claims linger, there’s no question that the view from the space station is truly spectacular, as the images below show.
Flying at an altitude of about 240 miles over the eastern North Atlantic, the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station photographed this nighttime scene. This view looks northeastward. The night lights of the cities of Ireland, in the foreground, and the United Kingdom, in the back and to the right, are contrasted by the bright sunrise in the background. The greens and purples of the Aurora Borealis are seen along the rest of the horizon. Source: NASA
An Expedition 30 crew member aboard the International Space Station took this nighttime photograph of much of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Large metropolitan areas and other easily recognizable sites from the Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C., area are visible in the image that spans almost to Rhode Island. Boston is just out of frame at right. Long Island and the New York City area are visible in the lower right quadrant. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are near the center. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost are seen in left foreground.This image was taken on Feb. 6, 2012. Source: NASA
This unusual image was photographed through the cupola on the International Space Station by one of the Expedition 30 crew members. The lake just above the bracket-mounted camera at center is Egirdir Golu in Turkey. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked to the station at lower right and part of the Permanent Multipurpose Module can be seen just above it. The photo was taken on Dec. 29, 2011. Source: NASA
The bright sun, a portion of the International Space Station and Earth's horizon are featured in this image photographed during the STS-134 mission's fourth spacewalk in May 2011. The image was taken using a fish-eye lens attached to an electronic still camera. Source: NASA
Moscow appears at the center of this nighttime image photographed by the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 240 miles on March 28, 2012. A solar array panel for the space station is on the left side of the frame. Source: NASA
In this photo taken from the International Space Station, the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 is seen on approach for docking. The unmanned cargo spacecraft docked to the space station at 6:31 p.m. EDT on March 28, 2012. The ATV-3 delivered 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant and nearly 2.5 tons of dry cargo. Among other items, the station crew received experiment hardware, spare parts, food and clothing.The six-member Expedition 30 crew adjusted its sleep schedule to accommodate the ATV-3 docking. The crew stayed up late to monitor the approach and docking. Source: NASA