It looks like this answer is converging on a conclusive answer about a zenith-facing window on the ISS, and possibly also a window which might at least be able to offer a bit of a view of the zenith.

It would be really really nice to find a photograph of the top side (zenith size) of the ISS - the side that sees the stars, opposite from the side facing Earth.

Were there any shuttle missions that passed slowly over the top of the ISS, or at least had a view of the top? If so that might help narrow down a search for photographs of the top of the ISS by limiting to a few missions.

An actual high resolution photo of the top would be really great, but just the name of one or a few most likely missions would be good enough.

These would need to be after the Zvezda module was added and up and running. There is one window that is interesting there, (discussed here) so it would be great to see it!

Ultimately I'd like to be able to verify the existence, some more details, and angle of "window #13" as described here as well as check for any others. This gives an idea of the kind of resolution I'd like to find.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Many (most?) of the later missions did a flyaround. Lots of videos on youtube. youtube.com/watch?v=bXNH7whveGk Flies over the top ~ 1:16 into the video. Pretty far away though. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble OK I'll take a look. It would need to be fairly high magnification, not wide angle shots. Since photos potentially have way higher resolution than at least the YouTubes uploaded many years ago, I thought photos might be a better way to go. Maybe tonight I'll make some popcorn and settle down to peruse YT. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'll check the (nearly late lamented) spaceflight.nasa.gov galleries to see if they included any photography from the flyarounds. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ There's a decent shot here: spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-119/hires/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble OK, if I backwards image search I get to this page, where there are 4000x3000 pixel versions. These little windows may be only 15 or 20 cm or so, and there are so many other round things around. See edit. Anyway this gets me started, thanks! nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts119/… $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 0:08

1 Answer 1



Many of the shuttle missions late in the program performed a flyaround of the ISS after undocking. (STS trivia fact: This maneuver was traditionally flown by the pilot (the docking was traditionally flown by the commander)).

a graph showing a plot of a  shuttle flyaround of the ISS in a LVLH frame

Here is a partial list obtained by googling "which shuttle missions performed flyarounds of the ISS":

  • STS-96
  • STS-100
  • STS-108
  • STS-119
  • STS-131
  • STS-133
  • STS-135

Videos of these flyarounds are often available on youtube although the viewing distance is pretty far:

The astronauts took quality photography during the flyaround; much of it was available on the now-deleted site spaceflight.nasa.gov in the Galleries/Shuttle area. The pictures can be found on the newer NASA image website images.nasa.gov but the search interface is very rudimentary.

a picture of the ISS taken during a flyaround executed on STS-119

  • $\begingroup$ That's a nice image-browsing interface, thanks! While the large sizes there may not always be the maximum possible resolution, it's a great way to find images, and then a reverse search can find additional copies. The orbit diagram is pretty cool, I even know what LVLH and v_bar mean now. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Where can I subscribe for more STS trivia fun facts? hah $\endgroup$
    – DrKlutz
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 21:06

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