Wow! International Space Station and Boeing Starliner captured in the same incredible image

Boeing's Starliner (left) during Orbital Flight Test 2 as it approaches the International Space Station, as seen in an image taken from London on May 20, 2022.
Boeing's Starliner (left) during Orbital Flight Test 2 as it approaches the International Space Station. (Image credit: Szabolcs Nagy/Space Station Guys)

Set phasers to stunned: A photographer on the ground spotted a spacecraft 250 miles (400 kilometers) overhead, just about to meet up with the International Space Station (ISS).

Szabolcs Nagy, a space station tracker and photographer in London, captured Boeing's Starliner just 650 feet (200 meters) from the orbiting complex as the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) made a historic docking on May 20.

"I was listening to the conversation between Mission Control and ISS crew whilst taking photos with my telescope in the garden," Nagy, who also created, told 

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Boeing's Starliner (left) during Orbital Flight Test 2 as it approaches the International Space Station, as seen in an image taken from London by Szabolcs Nagy of on May 20, 2022. (Image credit: Szabolcs Nagy/Space Station Guys)

"It felt like no other ISS imaging session before," added Nagy, who enhanced his camera's view using a 14-inch Dobsonian telescope with manual tracking, along with a 3x Barlow lens to increase the system's focal length.

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OFT-2 successfully met all major objectives as Starliner is seeking to ship astronauts to the space station on future flights. While the spacecraft's mission results are still being judged against metrics with NASA officials, indications so far point to a crew going aboard Starliner later in the year.

Nagy described his photography session as "a totally surreal experience, really." In the moment, he wasn't sure if the two vehicles could fit in a single field of view, but everything was bright enough and close enough to capture a few thousand frames of the encounter, he said. 

As you can see below, this image wasn't the only one he produced during the mission. And in between photography sessions, he was uploading Starliner mission content on his YouTube channel.

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Geraint Jones, a professor and head of the Planetary Science Group at University College London, photographed the spacecraft and station during docking procedures from his location in Guildford, Surrey. Jones snapped his image with a handheld camera only an hour's drive southwest from where Nagy stood.

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As for Nagy, he was back at his camera during the reentry of Starliner five days later, as the Boeing spacecraft zoomed through the atmosphere en route to a safe parachute landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

"Check out the full video of the event; it was spectacular," Nagy said on Twitter May 25, adding, "As I tweet, Starliner is deploying the heat shield. Sooo cool."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time, freelancing since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: