An award-winning NASA photographer has selected his favourite ten pictures of the decade.
Bill Ingalls – who has served as the US space agency’s Senior Contract Photographer since 1989 – is only the second photographer to ever receive the prestigious National Space Club Press Award, and has seen his work appear in the world’s biggest newspapers, magazines and broadcasters.
In those three decades, he has worked at the Kennedy Space Center, in an active volcano; the Oval Office and the inside of a hurricane.
Bill, 56, also snapped the launch of a US citizen on a Russian rocket, and the burial at sea of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
Now, speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, he has talked through a picture for each year since 2010 – but stressed it is not a ‘best of’.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bill explained: ‘In some years there were many options and others very few. I tried to give an overall balance to the events I cover as well as choose photos I like and newsworthy events for NASA.’
Contrails are seen as workers leave the Launch Control Center after the launch of the space shuttle Discovery and the start of the STS-131 mission at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 5.
‘As I departed the Launch Control Center the floating vapor trail from the recently launched space shuttle floated overhead and I saw some sort of dragon’s face in the lower left.
‘I loved seeing the workers wrapping up their shift from the launch and heading home as this floated above. Some noticed and made photos, others simply went about the rest of their day.’
Expedition 27 Flight Engineer Cady Coleman peeks out of a window of the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft, shortly after landing southeast of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on May 24.
‘This is one of my favorite images of the past 10 years. Amongst all of the technology and hardware is the human element of Cady Coleman returning after months in space.
‘I’m almost certain there is a big smile hidden from our view.’
The space shuttle Enterprise on a barge, passes the Statue of Liberty in New York on June 6, on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum – where it is now permanently displayed.
‘Seeing the space shuttle go into its new home was bittersweet.
‘I hated to see the programme end without a follow-on vehicle launching humans into space from America, but it was also wonderful to be able to see these spacecraft in new environments and allowing many that had never seen them before have an up close look.
‘Chasing Enterprise up the Hudson on a boat was a real thrill and getting it to join the other icons in the frame made it all the better.’
The Mars-bound United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral on November 18, startling some birds.
‘One of my all-time favorite launch photos, this was from a remote camera out in the swamp.
‘When I went to retrieve the camera, a few hours after launch, I’m pretty sure I yelled “sweet”, as I reviewed the frames on the back of the camera.’
NASA’s Expedition 41 Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman is helped out of the Soyuz Capsule just minutes after landing in the Soyuz TMA-13M capsule in a remote area near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on November 10.
‘Soyuz landings happen fast.
‘The goal is to get the crew out quickly and safely and it can be very hectic around the capsule. ‘Never knowing which way a crew member will be facing as they come out, I took a chance, got lucky and witnessed Reid coming back to Earth after having been in space for more than five months.’
The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency, near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on March 12.
‘Our Russian helicopter pilots and commanders are amazing.
‘At nearly 10,000 feet with the door open, it can get a bit cold and windy, but adrenalin kicks in and you almost forget about those challenges.
‘As we circle the landing Soyuz capsule, with a crew of three inside, I noticed from my left eye that the Moon was about to come into frame. I was lucky to get a quick capture of the capsule and the Moon together.’
Former astronaut and US Senator John Glenn lies at rest, under a United States Marine honour guard, in the Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, December 16.
‘When I arrived at the Ohio Statehouse it became immediately clear that a great image could be made from the top of the rotunda looking down.
‘I researched whether access was possible and found I could get escorted up to make this image but told it would be precarious a climb. I had to conquer my fear of heights and get the frame. ‘I just kept telling myself, if there is an afterlife, and if by some chance that means I will see John Glenn again, how could I ever tell that legend of a man that I had a great picture in mind, but was too afraid to get it?
‘I had to do it. Once I got to the top, I forgot all about my fears.’
The International Space Station, with a crew of six on board, is seen in silhouette as it orbits the Sun at roughly five miles per second during a partial solar eclipse on August 21.
‘This was one of my best assignments in recent years.
‘Two of my colleagues from DC, Joel Kowsky and Aubrey Gemignani, were supporting from Wyoming and Oregon as well. We knew we had two opportunities to get the space station transiting the sun during the eclipse – one in Wyoming and an hour and half later in Washington State.
‘These transits were each less than a second long. One cloud or mistake and you could miss it, hence it was worth having two cover. Turns out Wyoming and Washington both worked while our colleague Aubrey scored great totality photos in Oregon.’
Julie Wertz-Chen, a NASA Entry, Descent and Landing systems engineer (left) with NASA Systems Engineer Aline Zimmer (centre) and Christine Szalai, NASA Technical Group Supervisor, Mission Commentator, all react after receiving confirmation that the Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the red planet’s surface on November 26.
The shot was taken from inside the Mission Support Area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
‘I’ve covered a few Mars landings over the years from the control rooms of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
‘I never grow tired of seeing the emotions spill out from team members after the years of hard work and the realization that all of that worked helped to land a spacecraft on another planet.’
NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson pauses for a portrait in her spacesuit, before going under water in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab on July 8 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
‘I had photographed Tracy a few times in the past; her Soyuz landing in Kazakhstan, walking the Red Carpet for the motion picture “The Martian” at the Toronto film festival, to oval office visits with the President of the United States.
‘I particularly love this frame of Tracy.
‘It was a real honour for me to be asked to make portraits of astronauts between them being filmed for a NASA video about the Artemis program. She truly is in an environment where she is most comfortable. I find this image conveys many thoughts and feelings for me: strength, intelligence, hardworking, kind, and confidence.’
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