When the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli had a special job to do: capture unique images of the orbital outpost with the Shuttle and Europe’s ATV ferry attached. Paolo tells us about those precious minutes.
Seen on a TV screen on 23 May, it all looked very easy and smooth: Soyuz stopped about 200 m away and the Station tilted to present a better view. Paolo took his photos through a small window in the Soyuz orbital module before returning to his seat in the descent module alongside crewmates Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman for the landing.
“This was a complex and delicate manoeuvre that could have caused serious problems if not executed properly, but I felt it was worth the risk,” says Paolo, who had only few seconds to admire the view.