Astronaut Shows Off ISS Cupola After Crew Dragon Success

SpaceX gained global attention last week for its first all-civilian mission that looks likely to open space travel to more private citizens.

The four members of the Inspiration4 crew spent three days in orbit and returned home on Saturday, September 17.

The groundbreaking mission also saw the first use of an all-glass observation dome fitted to the top of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Jared isaacman looking out out of the crew dragon's cupola.
Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman peering out of the Crew Dragon’s cupola. SpaceX

The cupola treated the Inspiration4 crew to stunning views of Earth and beyond, with the panorama a clear improvement on the more restricted view offered via the spacecraft’s smaller windows.

Well, it seems that all of the attention lavished upon the Crew Dragon’s cupola has prompted an astronaut aboard the International Space Station to remind everyone that the crew there also has a pretty awesome window on the world in the form of its very own observation module.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who arrived at the orbiting outpost in April, this week posted a gorgeous view of Greece and the Mediterranean Sea taken from inside the space station’s cupola.

Greece, Italy, and the Mediterranean Sea as seen from the cupola on @Space_Station.

— Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) September 20, 2021

Another image posted earlier this month shows a dramatic view of an alluvial fan in Botswana, with Kimbrough using the module’s seven-window design to artfully frame the natural phenomenon.

Cool view of this alluvial fan in Botswana out of the cupola windows.

— Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) September 9, 2021

Visiting astronauts often head to the cupola when they want to capture Earth photos, with some of the photography efforts truly spellbinding.

The expansive views afforded by the module mean that astronauts also use it to assist with spacewalks and monitor spacecraft arrivals and departures.

The cupola was added to the space station in 2010, about 10 years after the first astronauts began living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory. The image below shows the ISS’s cupola from the outside.

Astronaut shows off iss cupola after crew dragon success
Backdropped by the blackness of space, NASA astronaut Ron Garan is pictured in a window of the cupola of the International Space Station in 2011. NASA

Check out the start of this video for a detailed interior view of the space station’s observatory module.

This video shows some of the breathtaking imagery captured from the space station’s cupola.

The Crew Dragon’s cupola is smaller than the space station’s and comprises a single glass dome instead of multiple windows. But the views from both are always going to be magical.

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