The Space Shuttle Columbia Lands at Kelly Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas

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The Space Shuttle Columbia Lands at Kelly Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas

This photo taken by Joel Sternfeld depicts a man in grey slacks and a white t-shirt. He appears to be on a higher platform than the main group of people that are viewing the space shuttle on top of the plane. It may be that he is the director of the shuttle transportation project. It’s a pretty sunny day out with little to no clouds, and it almost looks like a picture – which it may be. It might be a big mural on a wall, and this man is just admiring the view, for there is a discrete green line that separates the ground the man is on, and the crowd of people looking at the shuttle.

Though, the main thing that I’m wondering is why isn’t the man with the crowd? Is he allowed to be in his current location? Maybe he’s the pilot, or the man directing the plane when to leave the airport. Or maybe the shuttle is being decommissioned, or it’s being fueled for the trip to space later. But, as I discovered the original title of this photograph, this depicts a space shuttle that had just landed in the airport, and the people surrounding it are welcoming its arrival. So maybe the man in front was the pilot of the aircraft and is looking over his accomplishment. Or perhaps it’s an army veteran that’s proud of seeing an American achievement land in the same base he flew in during the war. Or maybe he’s just another bystander who wanted a better overall view.

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