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‘Orbital Planes’ Series Documents 30 Years of the Space Shuttle Program


Roland Miller is a photographer who has focused his lens on U.S. space exploration programs over the course of the last 30 years. His latest series and book, Orbital Planes, is a visual presentation of the entire decades-long journey.

Miller’s full series of photos will be encompassed in a 200-page photo book called Orbital Planes: A Personal Vision of the Space Shuttle and will be released in the fall of 2022. It is being published by Damiani Editore in Bologna, Italy.

He says that the book is a visual presentation of his journey documenting and interpreting the Space Shuttle, including the orbiters, rockets, and manufacturing, testing, and launch facilities located around the United States. Along with the photos are his accounts of interactions with the Space Shuttle program and its personnel.

Port Side T-0 Umbilical Panel
Space Shuttle Endeavour
STS-134 OPF to VAB Rollover
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
External Tank and SRB “Stack,” STS-133
High Bay 3
Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Launch Belly View
Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133
Launch Pad 39A
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida

“I approached this subject in a hybrid style of documentary and abstract imagery to tell a more complete story,” he says. “My hope is that Orbital Planes will give the reader their own personal view of the Space Shuttle and the technology and facilities that helped it fly.”

Miller started documenting the Space Shuttle program when he was teaching photography at a college near Kennedy Space Center, and in 2008 put in significant and concentrated effort into documenting the final years of the program. He says that Orbital Planes is the result of that work and contains images from that 30 year period, with an emphasis on the final years of the program before it was decommissioned.

RSS Rolled Back
Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133
Launch Pad 39A
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Launch of STS-129
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Vehicle Assembly Building Roof
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Commander’s Console
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Orbiter Processing Facility 2
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florid

In order to offset costs related to producing the book and to offer prints of selected images from the project, Miller has launched a Kickstarter for the project. As part of the crowdfunding campaign, backing options include signed copies of the Orbital Planes book, images from the book in a variety of sizes, and copies of Miller’s other two space photography books: Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History and Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station, the latter which was co-authored with Italian astronaut, Paolo Nespoli.

Interior Space was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2020.

Fuselage Flag and Wing
Space Shuttle Discovery
Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florid
Aft with Tail Cone
Space Shuttle Discovery
Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The finished book will be printed on what Miller describes as high-quality paper and will be 11.7 x 9.8 inches in size, hardbound with 200 pages and 150 color photos. All books sold through the Kickstarter will be signed copies. Any prints offered as rewards will be printed on high-quality archival paper with pigment inks and will also be signed.

Mulitple reward tiers are available for the book which starts at $55 and range as high as $1,500, all of which can be perused on the Orbital Planes Kickstarter.

ISS Airlock and Hatch
Space Shuttle Discovery
Orbiter Processing Facility 1
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Exhaust Port Detail
Space Shuttle Main Engine Testing
A2 Test Stand
NASA Stennis Space Center, Mississippi

Disclaimer: Make sure you do your own research into any crowdfunding project you’re considering backing. While we aim to only share legitimate and trustworthy campaigns, there’s always a real chance that you can lose your money when backing any crowdfunded project.


Image credits: All photos by Roland Miller and used with permission.



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