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Photo of space shuttle Endeavor from a plane not the first, but it's one we'll remember

A woman flying from New York to Palm Beach yesterday got a birds-eye view of the space shuttle Endeavor launch, then used her iPhone to make some photos and a short video of the stunning sight. Once on the ground, she posted the photos on TwitPic and the video on TwitVid, unaware of the avalanche of attention she was about to receive.

Stefanie Gordon, who's handle is @Stefmara on Twitter, was shocked to find that NASA re-tweeted her photos which then went viral. She has since gained more than 2,500 Twitter followers and today is fielding requests from major media outlets to tell her story. One of her photos was featured on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times today. The Times contacted Gordon for permission to use her photo in exchange for $100. You can read about how we tracked her down here.

Gordon's shuttle launch photo is not the first taken from a plane but because she sent it out on TwitPic, it will be the one most people remember for a long time. This demonstrates the power and the viral nature of social media perfectly. With such a high percentage of the population carrying Internet-connected cameras at all times, so many people are in a position to get "the shot" of the day, every day. Yesterday it was Gordon's turn.

In a report on Mashable, Gordon says lots of people on her plane were making pictures of the launch but apparently she was the only one who sent them to Twitter. A quick image search on Google shows that many people before Gordon have made similar photos and videos from planes during shuttle launches with a good number of them having much better quality.

This YouTube video, made in February of 2011, shows a similar site and it's interesting to hear the unidentified man, NeilMonday on YouTube, say he has seen launches from the ground but not from air. The video has been viewed more than four million times.

And sort of lost in all the buzz over Gordon's photos and video was this video. A link was posted in Gordon's TwitPic feed by @garrett-zac (Zach Garrett) in response to her photos. Garrett said he made the video with his iPhone using a 500mm lens attachment he bought from Photojojo. Click the thumbnail photo below to see his video. The quality is really amazing. What a cool gadget!

With the last shuttle launch coming soon, you can bet that launch will one of the most photographed and shared moments of all time. If you're there and share your photos and videos on social media quickly, it could be your turn to provide the world with an image that defines that moment in time. Are you ready?

Posted by Gadget Guy at 2:19:12 pm on May 17, 2011

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