Back to Earth Gallery

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Spacewalk-1 STS128 / ISS

During a 6 1/2-hr spacewalk, Nicole waves to her spacewalking partner Danny Olivas from the end of the European Columbus Module of the ISS.
(front cover / cover design by Ann Kirchner) (Sept 2, 2009 / credit: NASA)

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Isle of Man 

Space Shuttle crew of STS-59 captured this stunning image of the Isle of Man from space.
(inside cover) (credit: NASA)

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Reaching for the Stars
Painting and Description by Apollo Astronaut Alan Bean

In one sense, this is a painting of a universal Astronaut, symbolizing everyone who flew in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz. It also represents those who fly on Space Shuttles and will fly on a Space Station and on future missions only dreamed about at this time.

 

The Astronaut is an emissary of us all, soaring away from our planet Earth and traveling as far as it is humanly possible to go with the technology available in our age. Although we haven’t yet explored distant stars, we are moving inexorably in that direction. As the centuries unfold, humans will visit all the planets around all the stars that it will be possible to reach at that time, for this desire to explore our limits appears to be a unique and magnificent characteristic of human beings.

 

But, in a broader view, this lone human figure not only symbolizes those of us in the astronaut profession, but all of us who possess a dedicated and adventurous spirit no matter what our interests or age. For we Earthlings, we human beings, are the only life form that we know of that can dream, then plan and work together to achieve that dream. We are extraordinary in the universe in that our only limits are those we place on ourselves.

 

I painted this Astronaut, this “Star Sailor,” to represent the best in each of us, what we can accomplish, who we can be, if we will create the courage and determination to move in the direction of our Dreams. It is up to each of us to keep reaching for our own Stars and to understand that they are not light years distant, but as close as our workplace, our home, and our family.

(epigraph)

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Earthrise

Astronaut Bill Anders became the first person to photograph our planet rising above the Moon. He took this iconic image, Earthrise, in 1968 during Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon.

(introduction) (Apollo 8 / Dec 24, 1968 / credit: NASA)

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The International Space Station

As seen from the Space Shuttle Discovery, an image captured by Nicole of the view of the International Space Station after the completion of the 133rd mission in NASA’s Space Shuttle program and the final flight of Discovery.

(chapter 1) (March 7, 2011 / credit: NASA)

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Hope

Floating in the windows of the International Space Station Cupola Module, with Earth in the background. This is every astronaut’s favorite place on the space station.

(chapter 2) (March 4, 2011 / credit: NASA)

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The Wave

While onboard the International Space Station during her first spaceflight, Nicole painted the first watercolor in space. Inspired by an image she took of Isla los Roques, a small chain of islands on the northern coast of Venezuela. To Nicole these little islands looked like someone had reached their hand down with a big paintbrush and painted a wave on the ocean. 

(chapter 3) (October 2009 / credit: NASA)

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Bugs In Space

Nicole's NASA astronaut class was nicknamed “the Bugs.” On the International Space Station, she and her STS133 Bug crewmates Eric Boe, Mike Barratt, Al Drew, and Steve Bowen are holding a quilt made by their fellow Bug Karen Nyberg. 

(chapter 4) (March 2011 / credit: NASA)

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Choreographing a Spacewalk

From the flight deck of the Space Shuttle Discovery, Nicole remotely guides her crewmates Al and Steve through their spacewalk activities outside the International Space Station.

(chapter 5) (March 2011 / credit: NASA)

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Next Mission

Nicole discovers her next mission in life after working on space-themed art therapy programs with children around the world - leading to the formation of the Space for Art Foundation. In this photo, during one of the early sessions, Nicole is seen painting with a young girl at a pediatric cancer in Houston. This young girl shared thoughts well beyond her years and opened up Nicole's heart and mind to the value of the work of the Space for Art Foundation -- "uniting a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space exploration and the healing power of art."

(chapter 6) (2015 / credit: Space for Art Foundation)

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Flight Home

This stunning silhouette of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was taken from the International Space Station, capturing Nicole's flight back to Earth after her three month mission on the ISS.

(chapter 7) (Nov 25, 2009 / credit: NASA)

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Caribbean waters

A view of Nicole's home state of Florida and the surrounding tropical waters of the Caribbean as seen from the International Space Station. A peek of the ISS solar panels in the picture frame.

(conclusion) (March 2011 / credit: NASA)