Super slomo high-resolution space shuttle goodness
January 28, 2013 7:26 AM   Subscribe

Each space shuttle launch was documented by 125 cameras aimed at its engines, solid rocket boosters, orbiter, and umbilicals. The 45-minute film Ascent compiles the "best of the best": astounding 400 fps footage from three missions (STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124), produced by NASA aerospace engineer Matt Melis, and narrated by Melis and photographer Kevin Burke.
posted by googly (27 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jumping around a little bit before I dive in,

WOW


WOW

That is just about the most amazing thing ever. Thank you.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:39 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is gooder than good.
posted by ericost at 7:44 AM on January 28, 2013


Thank you, this is great. With the Apollo 1 anniversary yesterday and the Challenger anniversary today, I've been thinking a lot about the space program.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:48 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


For those hunting for a downloadable version: archive.org
posted by lumensimus at 7:52 AM on January 28, 2013


god dammit googly IM SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING AT WORK
posted by Mach5 at 7:52 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the commentary that really does it for me. Incredible!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2013


Metafilter: pouring into the flame trench
posted by blue_beetle at 8:11 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the best of the web.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:34 AM on January 28, 2013


Wow. Just started watching ... look at the engine that is leftmost in the frame between 4:15 and 4:30. As it really fires up, the entire rocket nozzle wiggles like it was made of gelatin.
posted by compartment at 9:38 AM on January 28, 2013


This is the best of the web.

This is the best of humanity. People working together to do incredibly difficult, almost impossible things for the advancement of us all. I am never so proud to be a citizen of this country then when I see stuff like this. Maybe space is a dead end, but just the sheer inspiration and example of this kind of thing is worth every penny.
posted by bartonlong at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is great! Thanks!
posted by brundlefly at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2013


Watching this when I get home. I gawked at the first 5 minutes in bug-eyed amazement before realizing that I had to get back to work...
posted by schmod at 10:23 AM on January 28, 2013


compartment -

That jiggle gives you a really good idea of some of the forces at play that gave the engineering team several sleepless years. The engine bells are cooled prior to ignition where they go from something like -300 degrees farenheit to close to +6,000 degrees in a matter of seconds.

That initial jolt is so severe it causes the entire bell to contract and expand like jelly.

Amazing it works at all, isn't it? ;-)

The SSME program team did some incredible work under an almost impossible timeline. It was by far the most complicated and dangerous part of the shuttle program and the fact that there were really only two "minor" failures during the whole program is amazing. To say the SSME is a wonder of the modern world is an understatement. It is brilliant.

One final note - the third generation SSME was under development when the shuttle program was cancelled in 2004. Upgrades over the years had made the engines more reliable, easier to service and less expensive to maintain, but the MK3 changes were going to be the most far reaching. The goal of this program was to eliminate the need for a complete removal and overhaul after each mission. If memory serves me, work was about 75% complete on the program and would have allowed NASA to refurb the SSMEs after something like 3-4 flights instead of every one. It would have shaved a significant amount of time off of orbiter turnaround.
posted by tgrundke at 10:28 AM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


compartment: "Wow. Just started watching ... look at the engine that is leftmost in the frame between 4:15 and 4:30. As it really fires up, the entire rocket nozzle wiggles like it was made of gelatin."

That's on purpose - each engine gimbals one full round to make sure everything's in order.
posted by notsnot at 10:47 AM on January 28, 2013


On closer inspection, I see what you're talking about. Ignore what I said.
posted by notsnot at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2013


Proud to say I tested 12 of those telescopes before they left our plant for service.

The last shuttle tragedy pointed to a weakness in NASA tracking of launches, and so they purchased those telescopes - probably the newest land telescopes NASA owns - to cover that weakness. They can image single tiles long after lift-off; basically through the entire air-turbulence risk period.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The engine bells are cooled prior to ignition where they go from something like -300 degrees farenheit to close to +6,000 degrees in a matter of seconds.

I'll gladly defer to the broom, but ISTR that the nozzle cooling system keeps the temperature of the engine bells themselves down to the low hundreds. The bell contains 6000F temperatures without ever reaching them itself.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:02 AM on January 28, 2013


That was the fastest 45 minutes of my life
posted by popaopee at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: I'll gladly defer to the broom,
Defer to tgrundke. Broom worked on telescopes; tgrundke worked on rockets. :)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2013


Astonishing. Many thanks for posting this.
posted by carter at 1:32 PM on January 28, 2013


Holy cow when those main engines kick on WOW. Also I didn't realize that they use basically a big bunsen burner igniter spark thing to light the engines! I assume that's what the sparkly jawns at 3:00 - 6:00 or thereabouts are...
posted by Mister_A at 1:57 PM on January 28, 2013




Holy cow when those main engines kick on WOW. Also I didn't realize that they use basically a big bunsen burner igniter spark thing to light the engines! I assume that's what the sparkly jawns at 3:00 - 6:00 or thereabouts are...

They are they to ignite any hydrogen that wasn't ignited by the engines themselves, in order to avoid accidents.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:23 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the best of humanity. People working together to do incredibly difficult, almost impossible things for the advancement of us all.

Yes, this is why I love reading about space program. It's amazing, uplifting and humbling, all at once.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great post! Note that the archive.org link from lumensimus above does not have the commentary, only the music. Not that I minded watching it twice.
posted by bitmage at 6:18 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Just started watching ... look at the engine that is leftmost in the frame between 4:15 and 4:30. As it really fires up, the entire rocket nozzle wiggles like it was made of gelatin.

I'm glad that you all have noticed that moment early in the video. I have watched hours of this stuff over the years, and that "transient" is one of my favorite moments in all of space history. Wayne Hale (NASA god, look him up) has said that he nearly crapped his pants the first time he saw that imagery.

This is an outstanding compilation, and I'm glad that this footage will get seen more widely as a result.

As Neil Degrasse Tyson says, we should DOUBLE NASA'S BUDGET IMMEDIATELY. Call your congressmen (all three of them) and tell them to do so! Don't just send this video to your friends and ooh and ahh over it, PICK UP THE PHONE AND DIAL IT.
posted by intermod at 8:17 PM on January 28, 2013


Dear NASA,

Just because I was not inspired to become a scientist it does not mean I was not inspired.

Thanks,

A fan
posted by Room 641-A at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


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