August 30, 2013

“Riding the Booster” [HD Video of Space Shuttle Launch/Descent].

Just watch. And listen!

My favorite part is when we go “transonic,” and since we’re on board, it’s no big deal. One day, I too would like to go transonic and have it recorded for posterity.

Thanks to the folks over at io9 for the following context:

Try to let what you’re witnessing sink in. See those numbers flying past in the upper right hand corner? That’s the Shuttle’s airspeed. See that gleam of light against the inky backdrop of space at 2:08 and 3:11? That’s the Shuttle continuing on its flight path into low Earth orbit. Hear the eerie rattling, haunting moans, and weird dinosaur noises? That’s what it sounds like to be a Solid Rocket Booster, falling to Earth from an altitude of 150,000 feet.

According to that same blog post, the sound has been mastered by the folks at Skywalker Sound. Indeed, the sound is one of the most affecting aspects of this video. It provides a level of detail that makes the experience far more intimate, as if you were really riding that booster.

There is something profound about being transported beyond the bounds of Earth. Out there it seems a sense of peace and calm exists that has no reference point here on the surface.

However, I am also struck by the messiness our technology. It still seems so primitive, and wasteful. Look at how many parts are jettisoned. Look at how clumsy our recovery methods are; more than fifty years after our first ventures into space, we are still fishing leftover boosters out of the sea.

Seems to me we need to completely re-imagine our approach, but what do I know? I can conceptualize all I want, meanwhile there are real live rocket scientists doing everything they can to ease humanity into that last frontier.

For me, this sort of video is endlessly inspiring. It sets my imagination spinning, alight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Bonus: more video of plunging towards Earth from the outer edges of our atmosphere:

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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