NASA Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary

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. (Image credit: NASA)

HOUSTON - NASAcommemorated the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the UnitedStates Monday with a video recorded by ExpeditionThree astronaut Frank Culbertson, who was aboard the International SpaceStation (ISS) the day of the 2001 tragedy.

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

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

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

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

When NASA'sspace 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 duringtheir joint operations and landing.

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

The dayafter the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks,Culbertson learnedthat former U.S. Naval Academy classmate and friend Charles "Chic"Burlingame was the designated pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, whichstruck the Pentagon.

"Theworld changed today," Culbertson said of the 9/11 attacks. "What I say or do isvery minor compared to the significance of what happened to our country todaywhen it was attacked."

Five yearsafter the 9/11 attacks, NASA's space shuttle Atlantis dockedat the ISS with sixSTS-115 astronauts and a new addition for the orbital outpost.

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

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Tariq Malik
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award (opens in new tab) for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast (opens in new tab) with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network (opens in new tab). To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab).