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An Astronaut’s View of 9/11

There are many amazing and heartbreaking stories of loss and heroism that occurred on 9/11. We’ve heard from those who escaped the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, as well as those who rushed to a Pennsylvania field to find a smoldering crater. Each of those tales is unique, and tells a story that seems to have no end, but there is one unique story you may not be familiar with. It’s about the one American not on the planet that fateful September day.

His solitary American experience that clear September day offered him the most unique view of the worst day in modern American history.

Frank Culbertson was the Commander of Expedition 3, a three-man crew (one American astronaut; two Russian cosmonauts) aboard the International Space Station as it orbited around the planet every 90 minutes. The veteran NASA astronaut had more than his share of unique experiences as a three-time flier aboard the space shuttle and as a veteran fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, but his solitary American experience that clear September day offered him the most unique view of the worst day in modern American history.

Frank Culbertson

Astronaut Frank Culbertson had a unique perspective on the 9/11 attacks, one he shared with NASA Television. NASA photo

Frank recorded his thoughts and experiences at the time in an open letter that was circulated shortly after the attacks, but given the overwhelming media coverage at the time, his letter and his unique perspective did not get the public attention they certainly deserved. With the 10-year anniversary observances under way, well-deserved attention is finally being given to Frank, his unique letter and his one-in-250-million American experience.

As part of its efforts to commemorate the events of 10 years ago, NASA Television produced a short form video of Frank’s experiences on 9/11. His story and experience are like none you have ever heard before.

By

Richard “Rich” Cooper is a Principal with Catalyst Partners, LLC, a government and public affairs...