NASA Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary
This image is one of a series taken that day of metropolitan New York City by the International Space Station's Expedition 3 crew that shows the smoke plume rising from the Manhattan.
Credit: NASA

HOUSTON - NASA commemorated the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States Monday with a video recorded by Expedition Three astronaut Frank Culbertson, who was aboard the International Space Station (ISS) the day of the 2001 tragedy.

Culbertson, who commanded Expedition Three, had been aboard the ISS for a month with Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Turin when the 9/11 attacks took place. The ISS crew learned of the attacks during a radio conference with flight surgeons, prompting Culbertson to record the Earth as the station passed over the northeastern United States.

"We just had a short dash to make this at the very end," Culbertson said as he narrated the video, adding that the ISS passed over Maine and could see the smoking remains of the World Trade Center in New York City. "Our prayers and thoughts go out to all the people there...to the people in Washington.

"I just wanted the folks in New York to know that their city still looks very beautiful from space," Culbertson said. "I know it's a very difficult day for everybody in America right now and I know folks are struggling very hard to deal with this and recover from it, but the country still looks good."

Culberton's two-minute video was the first of several memorials held to recognize the 9/11 attacks and honor their victims.

When NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched toward the ISS in December 2001, it carried a U.S. flag retrieved from the World Trade Center. The astronaut crews of Endeavour, Expedition Three and their Expedition Four relief also paid tribute during their joint operations and landing.

"I hope that the people responsible are found and brought to justice just as soon as possible," Culbertson said in his video.

The day after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Culbertson learned that former U.S. Naval Academy classmate and friend Charles "Chic" Burlingame was the designated pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which struck the Pentagon.

"The world changed today," Culbertson said of the 9/11 attacks. "What I say or do is very minor compared to the significance of what happened to our country today when it was attacked."

Five years after the 9/11 attacks, NASA's space shuttle Atlantis docked at the ISS with six STS-115 astronauts and a new addition for the orbital outpost.

Click here full coverage of NASA's space shuttle missions.