Today NASA released the letters he wrote during and immediately following the attacks and the photographs he took from orbit. The images of huge twin plumes of smoke trailing from New York City bring vivid memories fooding back.
In his letters, Culberston writes mostly of his feelings of isolation. The feeling of being trapped so far away from Earth while his home country was under attack is crystal in his letters home:
CNN has reprinted portions of his letters:
"I was flabbergasted, then horrified. My first thought was that this wasn't a real conversation, that I was still listening to one of my Tom Clancy tapes," Culbertson wrote. "It just didn't seem possible on this scale in our country. I couldn't even imagine the particulars, even before the news of further destruction began coming in."
And he closed his letter on that first day:
"Other than the emotional impact of our country being attacked and thousands of our citizens and maybe some friends being killed, the most overwhelming feeling being where I am is one of isolation."
A day later, after having time to reflect on what was happening below, Culbertson continued his writing.
"It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are," he wrote.
Click here to read the entire CNN article.
More of his letters are posted by NASA, here.