Douglas H. Wheelock

@Astro_Wheels

Test Pilot; NASA Astronaut: STS-120 & ISS-25; Space Station Commander; Aspiring Poet; Inspired by quiet moments, kindness and the power of the spoken word.

Photos and Videos by @Astro_Wheels

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...An STS120-O-Lantern !!!

  • 1045 days ago via site
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Thinking back on 'Halloween-past'...October 2007...combine a simple pumpkin with a carving knife and candle...add the Space Shuttle Discovery...and the most incredible Space Shuttle mission ever flown (okay...I am a bit biased) and...voilà!!

  • 1045 days ago via site
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Back in Houston now, but wanted to share this photo from my visit to the Autumn wonderland in my hometown in New York this past week. This is where I would play as a child, where I learned to fish, and the pond where I played hockey and ‘Fox & Geese’ on the ice in the winter.

This is one of my favorite spots on the planet. I tried to find it from space to get a picture, but was not successful. Such a peaceful place, especially in the morning…especially during this glorious season of the year. I took this photo and then stood here for several minutes breathing in the beautiful dawn. Reminded me of the poem ‘The Salutation of the Dawn’, every tomorrow a vision of hope...

Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence.
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And Tomorrow is only a Vision;
But Today well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!

  • 1046 days ago via site
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I was just reminiscing that one year ago I was looking at my home from space. Trying to pick out the familiar mountains and hills, the pattern of the streams and the river valleys. The stunning beauty of our planet…an explosion of color, life, light, and motion hovering in a vast sea of darkness. Now, as I stand here looking at this beautiful Autumn landscape, with the cool breeze on my face carrying the sweet smell of the Earth, I realize this is all undetectable from space…a calm silence…space is awesome, no denying that…but space cannot come close to stirring the human spirit like standing right here…in this moment.

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face” - John Donne

  • 1051 days ago via site
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A picture-perfect evening in New York today…went to a high school soccer game to cheer for my nephew Darren and the Susquehanna Valley Sabers. The Sabers were playing the Johnson City Wildcats this evening…a hard-fought battle on the field, but the Sabers lost to the Wildcats 1-0…I decided to douse Darren with a bucket of Gatorade anyway… :-P

Great game, Darren!

Love,

Uncle Doug

  • 1052 days ago via site
  • 3,231

A well-worn trail through the woods of my youth. I must have run on this trail 10,000 times through the years. Several times during the storms of my life, my mind came back here to this trail, to these forests. Took this photo today on my walk. The smell of the leaves, the dirt, the trees is overwhelming. It is without question what I missed the most during my 6 months in space...the sweet smell of the Earth.

  • 1053 days ago via site
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Some of the Autumn colors along an old stone fenceline behind my parents' home. I have always been fascinated by trees, and the explosion of color during my favorite season of the year reminds me of my first glimpse of our blue planet while out on a spacewalk. The contrast is breathtaking! Makes the heart soar and the soul sing!

  • 1053 days ago via site
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Okay…so here is a photo of upstate NY taken from space. My childhood playground. The city where I was born (a few years ago)… :-) My quaint Norman Rockwell-esque hometown…the mountains that I hiked, the forests that I camped and the lakes that I fished with my Dad. Amazing to see it all from space. Of course, in these hills and forests my favorite time of year is Autumn. The colors of the leaves are spectacular now. Heading outside with Mum…to take some pictures of these amazing trees!

My favorite poem about Autumn is Keats’ “Ode to Autumn”…a surprise at the end (the last line)…you could say that Keats sent the first ‘tweet’ in 1819…

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

  • 1053 days ago via site
  • 3,771

Okay…so here is a photo of upstate NY taken from space. My childhood playground. The city where I was born (a few years ago)… :-) My quaint Norman Rockwell-esque hometown…the mountains that I hiked, the forests that I camped and the lakes that I fished with my Dad. Amazing to see it all from space. Of course, in these hills and forests my favorite time of year is Autumn. The colors of the leaves are spectacular now. Heading outside with Mum…to take some pictures of these amazing trees!

My favorite poem about Autumn is Keats’ “Ode to Autumn”…a surprise at the end (the last line)…you could say that Keats sent the first ‘tweet’ in 1819…

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

  • 1053 days ago via site
  • 2,390

In upstate New York with my Mom and Dad, enjoying the land of my youth and my childhood dreams, and reliving memories of a much simpler time. Going through some photos and came across this one, taken four years ago today: 10-10-2007, on the launch pad tower, near the top of the External Fuel Tank, the Solid Rocket Boosters, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. Hard to believe that the next time I see this great spaceship will likely be at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Funny…the hands of fate, and how destiny unfolds with time.

I remember when this photo was taken, like it was yesterday. I was less than 2 weeks from realizing a childhood dream of riding on a rocket to outer space. I had stars in my eyes and fire in my belly…and now my biggest fear is losing that passion. Never want to lose that sense of wonder. Thanks, Mom…for reminding me that the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true.

”When I close my eyes, childhood dreams tumble
And whirl upon the winds of yesterday,
A bright confetti marking each stumble,
Each success, sometimes tinting the today’s.
In glittering, lucid, iridescence,
These dreams dance over the tended garden
Forming soft dew on memory’s treasures.
It’s here mature dreams come for sustenance
And exuberant youth, long forgotten,
Becomes a bloom of unexpected futures.”

  • 1053 days ago via site
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Do you remember where you were at 11:32pm, Greenwich Mean Time, on Saturday July 31, 2010? Shannon, Tracy and I were in the Space Station, along with our Russian Cosmonaut teammates; Sasha, Misha, and Fyodor…orbiting the Earth at 5 miles / 8 kilometers per second, when the alarms sounded and the Space Station began to shutdown. There is something in the human spirit, deep down at the soul-level that is transformed when you encounter such an ‘event’. An ammonia pump on the outside of the Space Station failed. It was one of those moments in which NASA shines, against all odds, in the face of the unknown, when hope seems lost. We were called on to conduct three complex and very challenging spacewalks totaling more than 22 hours in the vacuum of space. I was covered in ammonia as I wrestled with the M3 ammonia connector. Tracy and I were outside and Shannon flew me around on the end of the robotic arm. Well…victory is sweet indeed…recently in a clean room in Houston, Shannon, Tracy, and I were reunited with the failed pump module that came back to Earth in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on #STS135. My nemesis, the M3 ammonia connector is uncovered in this photo. Many thanks to our NASA engineers that turned these frightening and critical moments into one of NASA’s finest hours.

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown. Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be solid ground to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”

  • 1059 days ago via site
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Homecoming at West Point. Driving in the gate elicits such vivid emotion for me. Strange irony…I spent four years here, surviving and trying to ‘escape’…now I am constantly drawn back to my ‘Rock-bound Highland Home’. A photo from space of the Hudson River north of New York City. You can see where the river narrows and makes a sharp bend around the ‘commanding plateau on the west bank of the river’. General George Washington considered this place to be the most strategic position in America…’Fortress West Point’…

Hail, Alma Mater dear,
To us be ever near,
Help us thy motto bear
Through all the years.
Let duty be well performed,
Honor be e'er untarned,
Country be ever armed,
West Point, by thee.

Guide us, thy sons, aright,
Teach us by day, by night,
To keep thine honor bright,
For thee to fight.
When we depart from thee,
Serving on land or sea,
May we still loyal be,
West Point, to thee.

And when our work is done,
Our course on earth is run,
May it be said, 'Well Done;
Be Thou At Peace.'
E'er may that line of gray
Increase from day to day,
Live, serve, and die, we pray,
West Point, for thee.

  • 1062 days ago via site
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In Oklahoma City today to dream with the students at OCU, and ask ‘why not’? Will celebrate the dedication of the Bobby Murcer Indoor Training Facility on campus. Bobby was my childhood hero and role model as a man both on and off the baseball field. Witnessed his courageous battle with cancer and came to know the man as a dear friend. The world lost Bobby three years ago, and every day of my life I experience his impact. I had the privilege of carrying his New York Yankees game jersey to space with me aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2007. Then in May 2008, we posed for this photo at Everest Base Camp, at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall. With Bobby’s jersey and my STS-120 spacewalking partner and dear friend, Scott Parazynski. Remember..."To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world"!

  • 1070 days ago via site
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In the Soyuz spacecraft trainer with Kris Gutierrez, Network Correspondent for the Fox News Channel. Re-living the dream of that ‘flaming barrel over Niagara Falls’, returning to Earth in the Soyuz capsule, that I told my #SpaceTweeps about. Follow and he’ll let us know when the special report will air. So great to be back with my tweeps! Special shout out to and

  • 1072 days ago via site
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To my fellow pilots, my brothers and sisters in flight, celebrating you today with the greatest respect and admiration. Be safe and fly often! Thought I would share a photo of my OEF ride with space-themed ‘nose art’. Back in the States now, and joining my friends on Friday in Oklahoma City. Looking forward to the next #NASATweetup and dreaming with my #SpaceTweeps!

When this life I'm in is done,
And at the gates I stand,
My hope is that I answer all
His questions on command.

I doubt He'll ask me of my fame,
Or all the things I knew, Instead,
He'll ask of rainbows sent
On rainy days I flew.

How fast, how far, how much, how high?
He'll ask me not these things
But did I take the time to watch
The Moonbeams wash my wings?

  • 1072 days ago via site
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Ahhh…’memories…pressed between the pages of my mind’. Welcome home Sasha, Andrey and Ronnie! The journey back to planet Earth in this spacecraft is unforgettable! Love this photo of the capsule just before touchdown, with the moon as a backdrop, from the Master, Bill Ingalls – a lifetime of memories and dreams of the wonders to come. Great to be back with you, my friends – Grace and Peace! #NASATweetup #SpaceTweeps

  • 1077 days ago via site
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I salute you, my friends! Duty calls and I must fade off the 'Twitter grid' for a bit. I'll be flying again, in support of 'Operation Enduring Freedom' and plan to return home sometime in the Fall. If the opportunity arises, I'll try to 'tweet' you from 'the zone'. I won't be able to share the details for now...but, be sure that you'll be on my mind, and the memories of our time together safely stored in my heart.

Take care of each other, be kind and courageous, stand up when life's storms come, and reach out your hand to help others that have fallen.

Clear mind...open heart...praying for peace... ~ Wheels

  • 1141 days ago via site
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Physics demonstration for the day - ’vis viva’ (the living force)! Atlantis at the speed of sound - straight up! Newton – Descartes – Leibniz – Einstein…wish they could witness this ‘energy’.

  • 1142 days ago via site
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Are you the one? You never know when you’ll encounter an angel. I was at the Banana Creek viewing area to watch the launch last Friday, and was signing pictures and hats and shirts…and answering questions. A little boy stood patiently beside me, held my hand tightly for several minutes, and when it was his turn I knelt to talk with him. He only said a few words but for several minutes he felt my hair, and mapped the contours of my face with his little fingers. He looked at every detail of the patches on my flight suit, and drew the lines of each patch as if he were memorizing the design. Then he just gave me a hug and wouldn’t let go. One of those moments that blesses my life and touches my soul.

I found out yesterday that this little guy was sent to Florida through ‘Make-A-Wish’, a wonderful organization that makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions. This little boy’s wish was to meet an Astronaut and watch a Space Shuttle launch. So...you just never know…

Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die...Cause you never had time?
You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere...You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift...Thrown away.
Life is not a race. Do take it slower…
Hear the music...Before the song is over.

  • 1143 days ago via site
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‘Reflection’…Atlantis on the launch pad last night, after the rain. Pad 39A, the same pad that launched the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket to the moon so many years ago. The same pad that launched Atlantis on this final voyage of the Space Shuttle this morning. My mind races with the incredible wonders that await us in the coming years, out there among the stars. Though we are facing unknowns and uncertainty, we will keep stretching our minds, and we will keep reaching, even higher. “Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”

  • 1147 days ago via site
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