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About Andy


I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.




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NASA - A Behind-The-Scenes Tour

A few months back a friend, fellow photographer and NASA astronaut Alan Poindexter invited Leslie and I to visit NASA and to participate in a behind-the-scenes visit of the NASA facilities. I have lived in Houston most of my life, and I have only been able to visit the parts of NASA that are on the typical tourist destinations. Without hesitation, I was eager to go! When Dex asked me what kinds of activities I was most interested in, the first thing out of my mouth was to spend some time in the actual Space Shuttle flight simulator. It wasn’t a guaranteed visit, but very likely that we could get some time on the simulator.

During our visit to NASA, we did more than just spend time in the Space Shuttle Flight Simulator, such as a visit to an Orbiter mockup, the International Space Station mockup, the Soyuz capsule, and two Mission Control rooms.

Since the Space Shuttle program is coming to an end, and Congress has not allocated any more funding to NASA after the STS-134 mission, Dex won’t be included in any more flights with this program. He was the Pilot on STS-122 and he was the Commander of STS-131. Since Dex’s NASA tenure was coming to a close, he used some of his time to take us on a behind-the-scenes tour of what goes on at NASA.

The following images are fairly self explanatory, so I just threw together some short pieces of text underneath each image. Leslie and I had a great time, and feel honored that we were able to see behind the scenes some of the places that the general public are not able to see. It saddens me that our space program seems to have lost its way, and that we don’t seem to have a clear view of what our next steps are going to be with space exploration. After my visit to NASA, I am much more in touch with how things work and why space exploration is important, and I can only hope that we keep funding future missions into space.


The entrance to the Orbiter Space Shuttle Flight Simulator at NASA


..and here it is. It sits on top of a large hydraulic platform.





The control room for the simulator


Some of the information displays for the simulator


The interior of the Orbiter simulator. Everything is the same as the real Orbiter vehicles. You do experience a bouncy liftoff, which lasts a number of minutes. You are on your back, so the feeling is very ‘real’. What amazed me was the amount of time from liftoff until the unbuckling of restraint belts, which is around 12 minutes. Amazing.



Dex and I in the flight deck


Dex is explaining to me how to adjust the stick for optimum comfort


And no, this isn’t a video game.


Velcro is all over the place!


Ok, this does look like a video game, circa 1980. The technology works, though. (Remember Tank Command? Well, the graphics are eerily similar)


Here I am attempting a landing of the Orbiter, and the earth’s horizon has just come into view.




The Waste Collection System ‘training room’


And this is how you learn to use the potty in space. Correct aim is *essential*!


Alan Poindexter and his trusty Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag


A mockup of the Orbiter. The inside is a perfect replica of the real Orbiter


Leslie and Dex, about to climb in


Dex’s wonderful wife, Lisa. Always with a smile.


A memorial to those brave astronauts who were lost on prior Space Shuttle missions (Challenger and Columbia)


Aboard the International Space Station (ISS) volume mockup


The International Space Station (ISS) cupola. The most amazing photograph was taken of Tracy Caldwell Dyson in 2010


The interior of the Russian Soyuz capsule


Mission Control Center in Building 30 at Johnson Space Center


The Apollo era Mission Control Center (MOCR1). It was actually used for the Apollo and Space Lab missions


Ah, rotary phones


The actual Mission Control Center (MOCR2). They were going through the STS-133 simulation when we were there, so we weren’t able to spend much time in this room

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Reader Comments (12)

Outstanding!! My jealousy runneth AMOK!! That would be the high point of anyone's travels!! Uber awesomely awesome!! Great pics too!!

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Lamb

For all of us who remember the Space Race, and staying up to watch the landing on the moon, these photos evoke that time when we all thought we could be rocket scientists or astronauts. Incredible access to some of the things we never have seen. I loved the old mission control. Maybe I am too much like Walter Cronkite, but this stuff takes my breath away on how it was done, especially when you see the older technology still in use. Great shots Andy!

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill Bogle Jr.

Bill, thanks so much for commenting on the post. I have tons more photographs that I didn't post, and maybe I can be talked into creating a gallery of all of the images, just so people can browse through them. Whadya think?

February 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterAndy Biggs

Wow, what an amazing experience Andy!

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRon Niebrugge

I will be posting a video from the launch sequence that I captured on my iPhone. I just need to upload to Vimeo first.

February 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterAndy Biggs


I think it would be great if you could put up a gallery of all of the images. They are wonderful.


February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill Bogle Jr.

Okay. Just freakin' cool. COOL. I just sent this link to my ex - he is a NASA NUT! You know the kind, sets an alarm so he can get up and watch middle of the night launches live on the internet, had to have lunch with an astronaut when we visited the Kennedy Space Center, etc. I didn't get nut-i-fied, but I have a huge appreciation! This was a very special experience for you and Leslie! Extra cool.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFaryl Kaye

Wow Andy, I'm SO happy for you to have this opportunity to go visit the Space Shuttle Simulators. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! I can't imagine how much of a dream come true this must be for you. Wow... :)

Dex seems like an awesome guy. He also worked up with my friend and fellow photographer Stan Jirman to shoot the timelapse of the space shuttle for STS-131 being put together. It was thanks to both Stan and Dex that I got a pass to go watch the launch from the causeway and it's a memory I will treasure forever... So much gratitude!

I so hope that the space program continues to develop and grow. Budget cuts and the end of the shuttle aside, I so hope that this exploration and development continues. It's quite literally one of the most amazing and exciting things I can possibly imagine... :)

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAriel

Yeah, Stan and I are good friends as well. That is really how the whole NASA visit came to be.

February 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterAndy Biggs

Hi Andy,
I am beyond JEALOUS!! These photos are awesome, and I'm sure the experience was even more so. One of my favorite museums is the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian, and the best reason to go to Disney is actually not Disney - it's taking a day trip to the Kennedy Space Center. Loved it! Needless to say, here's another vote for posting a gallery of images.


February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela C. Brown

I uploaded some more images into a blog gallery a few days ago. You can find the gallery by clicking on the Blog Galleries link at the top of the page.

February 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterAndy Biggs

WOW. What a great opportuinty. I have always wanted to be a pilot seince I was a kid and being able to go to NASA is even better. Thanks for shareing your NASA trip!

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Benham

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