Watch an Atlas V Rocket Launch From the Rocket's POV

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 - 6:40PM
Tuesday, 30 January 2018 - 6:40PM
Watch an Atlas V Rocket Launch From the Rocket's POV
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NASA/Bill Ingalls

Ever wondered what it looks like to sit in a rocket and blast off into space?

Thanks to a new "rocket cam" that was installed aboard the Atlas V rocket launch on January 19, it's now possible to follow along for the rocket's entire journey up into orbit, watching everything take place as if you're strapped to the outer hull of the spacecraft yourself (which you're thankfully not).

Admittedly, the camera is facing downward towards the rocket's shaft and large flaming boosters, so the video doesn't quite give the same view you'd get if you were strapped to the rocket's nose, but in a way, this is better. There's no wonderful view of the stars, but there is a lot of bright explosive lights, and the chance to see bits detach from the Atlas V as it makes its way into space.

Check it out below:

What's really intriguing about this video is how quiet it is. Clearly, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) thought it was redundant to record and release actual audio from the launch as there'd be a lot of noise for about eight seconds before the craft enters the vacuum of space. But we can still hear the quiet, soothing, almost mundane voices of the astronauts and control room personnel monitoring the flight.

One would assume that the control room for any given rocket launch is constantly at fever pitch with excitement - after all, a rocket is being launched into space, which is awesome. But it seems that movies have lied to us; instead, this video almost feels like a rocket launch by way of Bob Ross, thanks to the subdued description of events coming in off the comms, and, of course, the dark black background that surrounds everything.

It's not unusual for rocket launches to be filmed from this view - aside from anything else, it serves the purpose of letting everyone in the control room watch to make sure that technical adjustments in the equipment are happening as expected.

It's rare, though, for a launch to show the general public the entire event from start to finish, and as such, this is a rare glimpse at what it's like to actually blast off into space, step by step, from the launchpad all the way into orbit.

As for why this launch even occurred: the Atlas V is carrying a brand new missile warning satellite named SBIRS GEO-4 into orbit. That satellite's mission is to provide the US military with advanced warning and intel should any missiles be fired towards noteworthy targets - a tool that could prove increasingly useful in the coming years as countries around the world compete for military dominance of the skies above our heads.

There are already three such missile warning satellites in orbit, and chances are that the US government will want plenty more in future.

In the meantime, it's nice to get a quiet, almost serene look at the process of shooting something up into the stars. Considering the future of space tourism and the chances that we'll all take a spin around the Earth, let's all hope that the ride is as smooth and bump-free as it looks in this video.

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