9/11 – from Space

From Aug. 12 to Dec.  15, 2001, astronaut Frank Culbertson was aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
On the morning of Sept. 11, Culbertson had been in space for 30 days. Two hundred fifty miles above the Earth’s surface, Culbertson was the only American not on the planet at the time of the terrorist attacks. He — along with two Russian cosmonauts — witnessed the horrific events of Sept. 11.
“It was a very good weather day, and I could look down and see the entire northeastern U.S. very clearly. I saw a big column of black smoke rising over New York City, over Long Island, and out over the Atlantic. I zoomed the camera in, and as I did, I saw this big gray glob start to envelop the southern half of the city.” He found out two days later that he was witnessing the collapse of the South Tower.
“We flew directly over Washington, D.C., and I could look straight down and see the Pentagon with basically a gash in its side, and the smoke and the lights of the rescue vehicles,” he said. “We could tell it was a terrible event.”
“I could always spot Afghanistan at night because it’s basically dark,” said Culbertson, who explained that surrounding countries, with their oil money, were pretty well lit at night. Some were even “grossly lit up,” he said.
Culbertson also saw the invasion of Afghanistan a month later, from space.
“One night, I looked down on Afghanistan and I saw these big, bright explosions … I was witnessing the invasion of Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban,” he said. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former test pilot for the Navy, Culbertson was able to identify what he saw as explosions from cruise missiles and bombs being dropped from B-52s. “After the attacks on 9/11, I knew the world had changed.”
Source: Allison Louie-Garcia, “Astronaut in Space During Attacks Shares Unique Footage of 9/11,” Yahoo!News, Sept. 8, 2011.

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This is the first time I’ve seen this account. Thanks for sharing it, Eowyn.