Michael Solurion the still life of space hardware

There is nothing more exciting than to see a set of polished tools astronauts use in there pursuit to exploring the universe.  The aesthetics of space technology have their own construct that may not be taught in design schools,  but I am sure it has influenced more professions than we can count.  I came across a recent set if photos taken by Michael Soluri, who is a New York City based photographer that had a rare opportunity to photograph a set of tools.  The photographs were taken in a clean room, upon which his equipment had to be disassembled and chemically bathed before hand and had to wear a nylon-suit, with boots and latex gloves -as not to contaminate the tools.  Please feel free to browse through his photos>>>

One-of-a-kind flight tools to be used in earth orbit by astronauts while servicing the Hubble Space Telescope from the cargo bay of  shuttle Atlantis – May 2009

Designing and building the bespoke space tool kit was both challenging and costly – the tools were constructed under clean-room conditions normally associated with nanotechnology manufacture.  That ensures the devices are perfectly clean before they travel into space, where cleaning gadgets is much more challenging.  This tool’s job is to undo bolts. It is the workhorse of the space walk business, having been used on the last three Hubble missions and as a standard tool on the International Space Station.  It comes complete with a microprocessor that controls its speed and torque, making it the most complex and therefore most expensive of the tools in the kit bag.

EVA Mini Workstation (mounts to front chest of astronaut’s spacesuit


SM4 EVA mini drill system

The decision to repair the faulty parts was unusual, says Michael Weiss, deputy programme manager for Hubble.

“We know how to replace instruments but we had never attempted to go inside the guts of an instrument and fit it in space,” he says.

This tool was designed to remove the screws from the casing of the damaged spectrograph.

It’s a smaller and faster version of a lab model, enabling the astronauts to remove the 111 screws from the casing as quickly as possible.


M4 Manual Door Stay (keeps one of two  HST bay doors locked open during EVA)



EVA Pistol Grip Tool


Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Grid Cutter Tool

This is a cutting gadget. Every electronic instrument used in space has an inbuilt electromagnetic interference grid protecting it from cosmic rays.

To access the circuit board the grid must be cut off. This photo shows the grid cutter and part of the grid itself, looking a bit like a TV aerial.

There’s a razor blade on the opposite side to where the screws protrude. The astronaut turns the screws, pushing the blade onto the grid and cutting through it.



Space Transportation System Portable Foot Restraint (STS PFR) – standard shuttle tool for crew foot restraint during EVAs (space-walks)

Some tools have a long history in space. This device clips onto an astronaut’s boot and also onto one of a series of footholds around the telescope or space station.

This piece of kit has been used on all Hubble missions: without it, the astronauts would float away like Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper’s tool bag.


Washer Extraction Tool (WET)

In the run up to the final Hubble Space Telescope repair mission, an onboard camera and a spectrograph – a device to measure the properties of light across a small area of the electromagnetic spectrum – on the telescope both suffered power failures.

Instead of simply replacing the faulty parts, NASA decided to attempt a repair.

This is one of the tools in the astronauts’ tool kit. It was used to remove washers from the spectrograph’s casing so the space walkers could access its circuitry.

Threading the washers onto its long aluminium needle prevented them from floating away.

Its flower-like head is designed to be easily gripped by a gloved hand, and the ring at the bottom allows it to be tethered to a spacesuit when not in use.

Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Guide Studs and Caddy

M4 EVA:  3/8″ Drive Ratchet Assembly with palm wheel

Handrail Removal Tool (HRT)

Some of the tools used in the Hubble repair will become part of NASA’s standard kit bag for future use, according to Weiss.

The clue to this tool’s function is in its name – it was used to remove a handrail that stood between the astronauts and the spectrograph.

The tool was placed over the top of the rail and captured the screws once the mini power drill had removed them.

High Torque Connector Tool. (for removing and mating electrical connectors on the HST) with inventory label


Michael Soluri is a New York City based photographer.

Assignments have taken him across America, through Europe, India and Central and South America. They have been as varied as on the holy ghats of India’s Ganges River, for the summer collection for Ermenegildo Zegna, the engineers and technicians found in the ”clean-rooms” of NASA’s space flight centers, or in the info-graphic design studio of Nigel Holmes.

Michael’s work has been published (print/on-line) in a variety of American, European and Brazilian magazines, books, annual reports, corporate, institutional and non-profit communications like:  Discover magazine, Wired, Launch, Space.Com, Ad Astra, BBC Focus, Wunderwelt Wissen, GEO, Time, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Kids Discover, Delta Sky, Grazia, Amica, Vogue Brasil, Claudia, NASA, Loral Space & Communications, MasterCard, IBM, Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, Merck, Steel Case, Feld Entertainment, Kimberly Clark, Simon & Schuster, Mondadori, Rizzoli, Duncan Baird, Editora Abril, New York City Opera, South West Research Institute, New York and Rockefeller Universities.

Profiled in Photo District News and on Space.Com for his expertise in the photography and editing of human and robotic space exploration, he has lectured at, among others, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Science Foundation and the Maine Desert Island Biological Institute.

Mark Mayfield, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of LAUNCH wrote:  “For the better part of his career, New York City-based photographer Michael Soluri has captured various NASA events, missions and projects with his camera while also working in the far different worlds of fashion, travel and portraiture. His work has always evoked a strong sense of place—and one filled with human emotion, documented through a lens.”

In February 2007, Soluri secured access to the last shuttle service mission (SM4) of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. At the Johnson Space Center, Soluri portrayed and documented the shuttle Atlantis crew of STS 125/SM4 in the first creatively controlled portrait session of an astronaut crew in more than 25 years.  The results, as seen in Soluri’s on-line galleries, continue to be published in magazines around the world. Among them have been the August issue of DISCOVER, the September/October issue of LAUNCH magazine, the October issue of BBC Focus and the January (2009) issue of Wunderwelt Wissen.

Michael serves as a photographic consultant to the STS125/SM4 crew providing them guidance on how to make more communicative, visually insightful photographs during their historic mission while up at the Hubble Space Telescope. Under the exclusive auspices of the Hubble Space Telescope Mission Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Soluri continues to create an artistic and historical photographic documentation of SM4 (May 2009 launch) in all its facets from pre-launch, launch, mission and post-landing.

Currently published in eight languages, Soluri is co-author and picture editor of What’s Out There – Images from Here to the Edge of the Universe and Cosmos – Images from Here to the Edge of the Universe, where he secured Stephen Hawking to write the books’ forwards. For the NASA History Office, Soluri was chosen to author Examining the Ionic and Re-discovering the Photography of Space Exploration in Context to the History of Photography which will be published in December 2008 in “Remembering the Space Age” a major NASA history book that commemorates the first fifty years of human and robotic space exploration.

michael soluri
michael soluri photography

phone: 212-645-7999 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              212-645-7999      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
357 west 11th street
new york, ny 10014

michael@soluri.com

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