The pathology of nowhere, Victoria Sambunaris
odyssey: Sunset over the western Pacific, photographed from Apollo 13, April 1970.
Sequence of 9 Hasselblad photographs, starting over the central Pacific. As the Earth turns, eastern Asia (top) and Australia (bottom) come in to view.
Apollo 13 was launched on the 11th April. From the geography visible and sunset times for April 1970, I estimate the sequence covers 2-2.5 hours, most likely ending around 7:30am GMT on the 12th.
At 3am on the 14th, en route to the Moon, Apollo 13’s no. 2 oxygen tank exploded. The planned lunar landing was aborted, and scientists and engineers on the ground were forced to improvise a way to get the astronauts home alive in the damaged spacecraft.
Apollo 13 finally returned to Earth on the 17th, splashing down in the southern Pacific - just left of twilight at the start of the sequence above.
Image credit: NASA/JSC, c/o LPI. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.
What can I say about this bird that hasn’t already been said? Endeavour, whose name was borrowed from Captain Cook’s first exploration ship. Endeavour, the ship that replaced Challenger after her accident, carrying her spirit. There’s a lot to live up to. I’ll give this a shot.
OV-105, the newest ship of the orbiter fleet, rolled out in 1991, just after I was born. I grew up with her; she was always my favorite. Endeavour was also the first orbiter that I ever saw up close. I visited first the California Science Center in Los Angeles on January of 2014, fully intending on thoroughly photographing the ship for this project. I walked into the hangar, and immediately had to fight tears welling up in my eyes. The emotions I felt were oddly similar to a time when I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person. How could I have taken a picture Starry Night and call the photograph art? I snapped two or three photos of the orbiter, and realized that there was no way I could capture what she meant to me in a photograph, so I stopped snapping.
It wasn’t until my second visit on August 2, 2014, when I was finally able to photograph the bird. Though, during that visit, I was still distracted, because I was on a first date with an incredible person who has since become my committed partner. Where else would I take my first date?
Endeavour will always hold a special place in my heart for all these reasons. Every orbiter is beautiful, but I think OV-105 will always be my favorite.