Two hundred fifty miles above the Earth’s surface, Culbertson was the only American not on our planet when disaster struck. He, along with two Russian cosmonauts, witnessed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 from outer space.
on that morning, Culbertson, who had been in space for 30 days, had called down to mission control for a routine medical check-in.
“I asked the doctor how things were going. He responded: ‘We’re not having a very good day on Earth,’” Culbertson says of that day.
Mission control then briefed Culbertson on what limited info they had…two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers and one plane had crashed into the Pentagon.
“My immediate reaction was very visceral: My country was wounded, and it was hurting,” Culbertson said.
As he listened in horror, he looked up at his map. He realized that, in a few minutes, he would be passing directly over the state of New York. He got off the radio, grabbed a video camera, and raced to the cabin window.
“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 later found out that he had been witnessing the collapse of the South Tower.
Check out his amazing footage below.