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Space Shuttle Launch
October 23, 2006 4:15 PM   Subscribe


 
Simply amazing.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:21 PM on October 23, 2006


"It's comin' right for us!"
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:22 PM on October 23, 2006


Very awesome.
posted by jonson at 4:26 PM on October 23, 2006


Just fantastic. Thanks, Brandon Blatcher.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:29 PM on October 23, 2006


Uhm, looks to me like those were shot from an airplane or similar vehicle - if the ISS was that low in altitude, they would be in serious trouble.
posted by dbiedny at 4:29 PM on October 23, 2006


If we had an airplane that could see the blackness of space and the curve of the earth, we wouldn't need Virgin Galactic.
posted by smackfu at 4:35 PM on October 23, 2006


That's what I was thinking dbiedny. But I am not a NASA techinician, so someone hope me.
posted by bardic at 4:36 PM on October 23, 2006


Reminds me of the end of Terminator 3...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:36 PM on October 23, 2006


smackfu, the ISS is an an altitude of 360 kilometers. Look at the photos - those are NOT shot from 220 miles up. More like a high single to low-double digit number of miles up, no question. Also, look at the size of the window that they're shot through - there's no window even vaguely that large on the ISS.
posted by dbiedny at 4:40 PM on October 23, 2006


Reminds me of the end of Terminator 3...

Yeah, but doesn't everything ?
posted by y2karl at 4:41 PM on October 23, 2006


Here's a typical view of the Earth from the ISS. Note the difference of scale of the earth's curvature, and the color of space.
posted by dbiedny at 4:45 PM on October 23, 2006


So, where do you think the photo came from? Do normal airplanes fly that high?

Also, more shuttle porn.
posted by smackfu at 4:52 PM on October 23, 2006


How about a gub'mint airplane documenting the launch from high altitude?
posted by dbiedny at 4:56 PM on October 23, 2006


A different length lenses and shooting angle can account for the difference.
posted by Jeremy at 4:57 PM on October 23, 2006


Jeremy - no, that shot is most definitely not from the ISS.
posted by dbiedny at 5:03 PM on October 23, 2006


Those willing to investigate whether this was taken from the ISS should check out the The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 PM on October 23, 2006


Aww, it's pretty cool. I guess. ISS or not.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2006


there's no window even vaguely that large on the ISS.

No, they're larger. Zvesda has a 16" x 14" window (that's probably the window we see here) amongst the 14 windows in the module. Destiny has a larger one, though that's not the window we're looking at here.
posted by eriko at 5:09 PM on October 23, 2006


Awesome post, thanks
posted by Kwine at 5:10 PM on October 23, 2006


Could these have been taken from one of these guys? Apparently, NASA has been using them to track shuttle launches. These photos seem to be from much higher than 60,000 feet, though...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2006


Explain to me how a zoom lens from the window cannot capture that shot? It doesn't look very different than this. dbiedny, the shot you point to was taken at a completely different time of day with the sun reflecting off of the water. That alone accounts for the color difference. I'm sure they have excellent zoom lenses, and the further you zoom in on a curve, the more it looks like a straight line.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:21 PM on October 23, 2006




two words: f'in eh.

addendum:

If you like this, netflix: Wings of Honnemise

But I would wager $10 that this is from a high-alt jet not the ISS. In the first pic the shuttle is roughly at the infamous "throttle up" phase of flight . . . note how the shuttle has risen relative to the horizon in both of those shots.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2006


The jury's still out for me on what this was taken from. All I know is that it's gorgeous. I wonder if there are higher rez shots out there.
posted by brundlefly at 5:27 PM on October 23, 2006


Picture of a launch from a WB-57, mentioned by mr_roboto above. The scale seems to be about the same. The pictures in question could be taken from a WB-57, or any other high-altitude aircraft.
posted by zsazsa at 5:27 PM on October 23, 2006


Actually, never mind. It's not the ISS. If it were significantly zoomed in, you wouldn't be able to see the edge of the window at all, much less relatively in focus.

Pretty damn neat, though.
posted by brundlefly at 5:29 PM on October 23, 2006


I was just gonna say, pretty damn neat.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:32 PM on October 23, 2006


It took me long enough, but I found a quick tracking program that confirmed that the ISS was over the North Pacific at the time of the shuttle launch.

Not that it's any less of a great photo.
posted by ewagoner at 5:34 PM on October 23, 2006


Isn't the orbit eliptical, couldn't it be a different launch than ewagoners from the point in the orbit closest to the earth? Perigee? None of the alternatives seem to be at the same height to me.

Great photo though.
posted by sfts2 at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2006


I'm thinking it's zsazsa FTW.
posted by Brak at 5:44 PM on October 23, 2006


But yeah, the pictures are still cool. I'm pretty fond of space pr0n.
posted by Brak at 5:45 PM on October 23, 2006


yeah someone over on jwz's blog claims to be the original uploader of the picture (to the internets, or maybe to the google) and says its from an airplane.

and as one of those people points out, if the picture were taken from ISS, the shuttle should appear to be headed right for the camera, not off to the side somewhere...
posted by joeblough at 5:48 PM on October 23, 2006


CoolieO pics!
posted by taosbat at 5:59 PM on October 23, 2006


zsazsa's link definately nails it.

and as one of those people points out, if the picture were taken from ISS, the shuttle should appear to be headed right for the camera,

There is no reason why this has to be. The shuttle doesn't just fly a straight line up there, it orbits several times to allow it to properly match velocity. Whether several equals 2 or 10, I have no idea.

Hmm.. Actually, I'm pretty sure it is about a days worth, at 90 min per orbit that would be a couple of dozen..
posted by Chuckles at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2006


Just to clear up a few misconceptions about ISS and shuttle orbits that have popped up here...

Both of them maintain low Earth orbits, only about 225 miles up. Think about how far 225 miles is compared to how wide the Earth is, and then go straight up -- it's not very high at all. When you compare it to the size of the plantet, it's barely left the surface! (That visual also shows just how thin our atmosphere really is.)

Also, the shuttle does not take a straight path to the station, like an elevator car on a cable or a cruise missile at a target. It takes many spiraling orbits before the two meet up. It takes a couple days for everything to slowly match up, whereas if it were a straight shot it would only take an hour or so.

Just looking at the photo, it was not inconceivable that it was taken from the ISS (though it did look lower than 225 miles). For example, here's a great shot of Mt. McKinley, where it looks like the station is even with the peaks. Here are two shots with smoke plumes similar to the shuttle shot, one of an erupting Mt. Etna and the other
of the burning WTC
. Mt. Etna looks like a similar altitude to the shuttle photo, but the New York shot appears much higher. All three shots are in reality from the same height.
posted by ewagoner at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think of Scorched Earth here. Remember? My sixth grade classmates and I somehow sneaked it during "computer time." Odd to see something so massive from such a perspective. But hey remember the FUNKY BOMB?
posted by HerArchitectLover at 6:20 PM on October 23, 2006


This thread linked to from the post on JWZ's blog joeblough mentioned seems to give the exact origin of the images. It even has a photo with the same date stamp of the guys who flew the plane. They were posted to Level 2, which looks like a pretty exclusive collection of in-depth pictures and documents for ultra-die-hard space fans.
posted by zsazsa at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2006


I'm never gonna trust Warren Ellis again.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2006


Oh yeah. Still an awesome FPP. The photos are amazing. It's a shame they're low-res.
posted by zsazsa at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2006


There's a bit bigger version of one of them if you follow the links on JWZ's blog.
posted by smackfu at 7:39 PM on October 23, 2006


i didnt mean to imply that the shuttle makes a straight beeline to the station.

but it is true that it has to fly an orbit which has the same inclination (=angle to the equator) that the station has. otherwise it can never reach the space station. well it might reach it, but only at two points where the two orbits intersect, and that's not very good :)

but anyway, i was just repeating someone's claim in jwz's blog. now that i think about it, there isnt really any reason it would appear to be coming straight at the camera. at the very least i guess it might appear to be flying in parallel. but orbital mechanics are weird and probably defy conventional wisdom.

i suppose if the station were passing directly over the launch site at the time of the launch, it should appear to be coming straight at the station due to the inclination requirement. but the station won't necessarily be right over the launch site when the shuttle is launched...
posted by joeblough at 7:57 PM on October 23, 2006


But who photographs the WB-57's, I ask? WHO PHOTOGRAPHS THEM?
posted by brain_drain at 8:34 PM on October 23, 2006


Here's a PDF about Return to Flight photography, including the "WB-57 Ascent Video Experiment". They actually have a turret-mounted HDTV camera that automatically tracks the orbiter -- these are just photos that one of the pilots took with a personal camera! The STS-114 video is here (lower right). It's a little jerky but it's a view you've never seen before. Watch for throttle up (around 1:20), the SRB separation, and the ET separation.

Unfortunately, this was only planned for the first two Return to Flight launches. I don't know if they plan to continue it now that they've "certified" the shuttle again.
posted by dhartung at 9:29 PM on October 23, 2006


They're still awe inspiring pictures. A great reminder that, at the end of the day, human efforts at penetrating space still haven't proceeded further than strapping things to massive loads of explosives and setting fire to them.
posted by Jimbob at 9:34 PM on October 23, 2006


Good find on that video. I can just imagine the conversation with the engineers on that one: "We want close-up video of the shuttle from liftoff to orbit. From a moving platform that's a few miles away. Have fun!"
posted by smackfu at 9:36 PM on October 23, 2006


smackfu: "...and we want it done in a week, for $50."

The timeline at least isn't far off: "In June 2004, we were looking at nothing more than a concept on a drawing board. In nine months, we built two complete imaging systems." And I thought my 28-135 IS was fancy, sheesh.
posted by Skorgu at 12:27 PM on October 24, 2006


If we had an airplane that could see the blackness of space and the curve of the earth...

Duh, as the previous responses show, there are quite a few such aircraft. Even more impressively, the one this picture was taken from is based on a sixty-year-old design.

...we wouldn't need Virgin Galactic.

Well, that is one good question... (OK, the Virgin SpaceShip is a cool design, made by one of my favourite engineers, Burt Rutan...but it's still nothing else than a glorified suborbital rocketplane).
posted by Skeptic at 3:05 PM on October 24, 2006


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