NASA has released footage shot from space during the September 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.
On the morning of the attack, American Frank Culbertson was aboard the International Space Station with two Russian cosmonauts. As they orbited the earth, they passed over New York City and captured heart-rending video of a massive smoke plume issuing from downtown Manhattan.
Culbertson, who recently sat down with NASA for an interview to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, can still recall his initial reaction to the news. He said he had been reading a Tom Clancy novel at the time, and he felt as if he had been sucked into the book. "But as we listened, and events were described to us by our flight surgeon and then by the capcoms, it became very real," Culbertson noted. "Once I saw it out the window, we took video as the second tower was collapsing. I didn't know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was really bad because there was a big cloud of debris covering Manhattan. That's when it really became painful because it was like seeing a wound in the side of your country."
"The smoke seemed to have an odd bloom to it at the base of the column that was streaming south of the city," Culbertson described the sight, according to a NASA press release.
Not long after witnessing the plume from the attack, Culbertson had this to say, per NASA:
It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are.
To watch Frank Culbertson's video of the event, as well hear his recent thoughts on witnessing the aftermath from his unique vantage point, see the video (below).
What follows is raw footage of New York, as seen from the International Space Station on September 11. The video also shows some behind-the-scenes footage from inside the ISS on that day and includes a lengthier present-day interview with Culbertson.