Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Two minutes of work

Listening to: Modern Fables - Julia Deans (2010)

NASA compilation video of various cameras on the Solid Rocket Boosters during Discovery's launch last week. I've posted a video from one of these cameras before, but as a compilation this just has some serene and surreal moments worth sharing (in my opinion anyway). The shot at 10:10 in particular is just made of pure wow:

The boosters burn for a little over two minutes. In that time the shuttle goes from motionless on the launch pad to roughly four and a half times the speed of sound at 150,000 feet / 45km high (roughly 5500kph/3400mph and about five times as high and nearly five times as fast as your average jet airliner cruises). If you want an idea of how fast Mach 4.5 is, watch the separation at about 2:25. 15 seconds later the shuttle re-appears as a white dot in the distance, still accelerating on its way to roughly 28100kph / 17500 mph and orbit.

The shot looking back at lift-off conveys the sheer power of this system in a way the the classic side on shot doesn't. Just before the one minute mark after launch a puff of vapour is briefly visible as the shuttle assembly goes supersonic. From a standing start, and initially climbing straight up...

Another cool thing is one of these cameras has sound. From about 14:46 you can hear what it sounds like inside the booster itself. It is almost eerie, at times sounding like the machine is catching its breath after finishing its work, before the wind noise returns and becomes a roar as the booster falls back into the atmosphere, at times with its companion booster visible in the distance.

While the video is sourced from NASA, I came across it at Bad Astronomy, a blog I only started routinely reading fairly recently, and which serves up nuggets of awesomeness on a regular basis. Like these:

The Stars Above, The Luminescence Below

Looking from one moon of Saturn to another across the rings

Family portrait of the Solar System

Ice swirling around a volcano

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