“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” – Neil Armstrong
The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present photographer Dan Winters’ most recent body of work, Last Launch, a stunning photographic tribute to America’s space shuttle program and the unquenchable American spirit of exploration.
Dan Winters grew up in the golden-age of space travel, watching the live launch of Apollo 11 with his family on their home television set and carefully following the mission unfold on TV, hanging on every detail as reported by Walter Cronkrite. This experience left an indelible impression not only on Dan Winters, but on the nation’s collective memory as a whole.
Winters was one of only a handful of photographers to whom NASA gave close-range access to photograph the last launches of the space shuttles Discovery (February 24, 2011), Atlantis (May 17, 2011), and Endeavour (May 11, 2011). Winters positioned several automatically controlled cameras, bolted into place for stability, at strategic points around the launch pads, some as close as 700 feet. The camera lenses are taped into place so they cannot be shaken out of focus by the blast. Tripped by an electronic trigger that reacted to the shuttles’ vibrations, cameras began shooting every five seconds after the ignition occurred. Dan Winters’ elaborate setup enabled him to record the explosive launches and the billowing smoke and ethereal clouds that follow, capturing transcendent images that serve as the last documentation of these shuttles as they were sent hurtling into space.
With precision and admiration, Winters’ photographs of the Discovery shuttle interiors, complex instrumentation, vehicle assembly facilities, and mission control provide the viewer with a visual tour of the space program as a marvel of technology and human ingenuity.
In the introduction to the publication, film maker Al Reinert, summarizes the meaning of the American Space shuttle program, “In the fifty-year history of human space-flight the most authentically human spacecraft, the vehicle that embodied its makers’ hopes and flaws most faithfully, was the American space shuttle. Time and again it carried aloft the dreams of a nation determined to reach beyond itself, launching the truest believers in that grandiose vision and showing the world the risk and wonder of believing in it. For thirty years the shuttle had demonstrated the strength and exposed the weakness of the people who built it, and the whole shares its star-crossed legacy.”
Dan Winters is an award-winning photographer based in Austin, Texas and Los Angeles. Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis and is Winters’ third publication following, Dan Winters' America: Icons and Ingenuity (2012), and Dan Winters: Periodical Photographs (2009). Dan Winters is a regular contributor for Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Texas Monthly.