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Surviving in Space



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Getting the Feel of Things
Photograph by Cary Wolinsky


American astronauts in Russian space suits get the feel of a Soyuz spacecraft in a simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, north of Moscow. Frank Culbertson, a former U.S. Navy captain, center, will command the third International Space Station crew, scheduled to launch this summer for a three-month stay. Here he practices reentry procedures with fellow astronauts Peggy Whitson, right, and Donald Pettit, left. In an emergency they would use a Soyuz—one is always docked with the space station—for the return to Earth.



Camera: Nikon N90
Film Type: Fuji print film 400 speed
Lens: 14mm Sigma
Speed and F-Stop: 1/8 plus flash @ f/8
Weather Conditions: N/A
Time of Day: N/A
Lighting Techniques: Flash mounted near camera plus ambient tungsten



SPECIAL EQUIPMENT OR COMMENTS:
Permission and timing were the hard part here. Once I had permission, I could gain access to the Soyuz training capsule only a short time before the astronauts came in for training. I arrived with a bag full of clamps and wires to try to get the camera attached to a hatch handle. The camera was wired with a radio-controlled remote release. The capsule was equipped with a tiny video camera which allowed instructors to observe the astronauts from a control room 30 feet (9 meters) away from the capsule. The three astronauts squeezed into the tiny capsule and the outside hatch door was swung shut. I dashed to the control room to watch. With my radio remote I could fire the camera when the team was in a good position. If more than 8 seconds passes between shots the Nikon N90 goes into a sleep mode. I discovered that the remote trigger had to be fired twice to make a picture. Once to wake up the camera, and once to fire the shutter. The next time I used the remote, Kenji Yamaguchi of National Geographic’s Photo Engineering department rewired the remote so that the wake-up and shutter release were done in one push of the button.


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