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Space shuttle does a back flip
February 10, 2008 3:15 AM   Subscribe

The space shuttle does a back flip while the earth races by underneath.

Shuttle Atlantis has performed a giant back-flip to give NASA a close look at its thermal shield.
The footage has been speeded up. At speed it seems a very frivolous manoeuvre.

Open Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra in a tab in the background for full effect.
posted by jouke (50 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow! I bet that is one happy damned pilot, with a lifetime of stories ahead.
posted by cgc373 at 3:50 AM on February 10, 2008


....highway to the danger zone.
posted by exesforeyes at 4:02 AM on February 10, 2008


I want to be an astronaut.
posted by chillmost at 4:14 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pop a wheelie!
posted by Tullius at 4:43 AM on February 10, 2008


I know it's real, but it looked about as real as an episode of Thunderbirds.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 5:03 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was more impressed by that than I thought I'd be.
posted by hojoki at 5:51 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice, thanks. Look at the other videos in the page. I am mazed by the way these people move in free fall, they are perfectly adapted.
posted by Dr. Curare at 6:00 AM on February 10, 2008


This footage is at high speed.

Yeah, go and spoil it for us... next you'll be saying it did'nt make a 'wooosh' sound.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:18 AM on February 10, 2008


"So Long, and Thanks for all the Liquid Hydrogen."
posted by ZachsMind at 7:00 AM on February 10, 2008


How do they place and manipulate the camera? Is it on board the ISS?
posted by roofus at 7:02 AM on February 10, 2008


It's easier when you don't have to stick your landing.
posted by scabrous at 7:46 AM on February 10, 2008


Like a whale breeching.
posted by stbalbach at 8:14 AM on February 10, 2008


I'd much rather it did a barrel roll.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:34 AM on February 10, 2008


The site resized my FireFox window. Fuck you, BBC.
posted by e40 at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2008


How do they place and manipulate the camera? Is it on board the ISS?

The camera taking the footage is sitting on the ISS. The maneuver is standard ever since the loss of Columbia. The purpose is to get the Shuttle in an attitude where the crew on ISS can take high definition pictures of the entire heat shield, so any significant damage can be discovered, as already noted by jouke.
posted by Catfry at 8:54 AM on February 10, 2008


The site resized my FireFox window. Fuck you, BBC.

Sounds like you need noscript.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 8:57 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


rub my bella.
posted by kliuless at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2008


In my fantasy world of 2008, they wouldn't of had to speed up the film.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:18 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have long been unaccountably amused by the term "full gainer".
posted by Tube at 9:20 AM on February 10, 2008


Do you have another link to this video? I've never been very happy with how the BBC distributes it's media, but this actually locked up my Firefox browser running in Tiger.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:39 AM on February 10, 2008


Yes, the pitch maneuver is on NASA's front page. Its not in high-speed though.

I'm still a little surprised at how new and neat the space shuttle looks to me. Its old technology but will always be space-agey and shiney to me for whatever reason. In the future, no one is going to believe we used to launch something that looked more like a 747 than a rocket into space for a couple decades.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:46 AM on February 10, 2008


Jouke: Open Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra in a tab in the background for full effect.

That was EXCELLENT. Thx! Almost makes up for the fact that we don't have jetpacks or flying cars, yet.

The Loch Ness Monster: I know it's real, but it looked about as real as an episode of Thunderbirds*.

Yeah, it's true. I had to keep reminding myself that it was real.

Or is it...

*Adjusts tinfoil hat and tunes in The Jetsons.*
posted by Skygazer at 9:52 AM on February 10, 2008


Gah. Browser window resizing and Windows Media Player?

Fortunately, the BBC also uploaded the clip to YouTube.
posted by pzarquon at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you start playing The Blue Danube right after the countdown on the real time version, it's pretty neat.
posted by Snyder at 11:02 AM on February 10, 2008


Does anyone know why the BBC player insists on playing not one but two short, blank videos before moving on to the actual content?

More on topic: some day NASA needs to do a shuttle mission full of nothing but aerobatic tricks. Maybe get two or even all three of 'em up there at once for some tandem formations.
posted by jedicus at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2008


Some day NASA needs to stop resting on its laurels and de-evolving back to the Cold War Space Race. For example, Orion is essentially Apollo regurgitated, with the added novelty of using the Space Station as a rest stop. I can't believe they are retiring the Shuttles and replacing them with technology that is older than me.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:23 AM on February 10, 2008


Actually, with me this crashes Firefox outright. I hate "multimedia".
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:01 PM on February 10, 2008


There's a youtube link a few comments up, smorgas.
posted by jouke at 12:10 PM on February 10, 2008


They would have gotten a lot more points if they'd combined that with a manual and a 360 benihana.
posted by danb at 12:28 PM on February 10, 2008


More on topic: some day NASA needs to do a shuttle mission full of nothing but aerobatic tricks. Maybe get two or even all three of 'em up there at once for some tandem formations.
posted by jedicus


Blue Space Angels? Where would the audience sit?
posted by Cranberry at 1:27 PM on February 10, 2008


This would be cooler if it had lasers and hula girl on the dashboard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:34 PM on February 10, 2008


Did you see that bluish blob with the white streaks in the background? That's where you live!

Awesome footage, awesome post, awesome planet, awesome, crazy humans.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:39 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some day NASA needs to stop resting on its laurels and de-evolving back to the Cold War Space Race. For example, Orion is essentially Apollo regurgitated, with the added novelty of using the Space Station as a rest stop. I can't believe they are retiring the Shuttles and replacing them with technology that is older than me.

Zachsmind, an Apollo-type stack is orders of magnitude less likely to kill astronauts than an unwieldy and unmanageably complex spaceplane. It's also capable of interplanetary travel - not limited to low-Earth-orbit delivery truck duty. Most everyone in the spaceflight community agrees that the Shuttle has been a white elephant, and that a return to fundamentals will be incredibly positive for our ambitions outside the atmosphere.
posted by killdevil at 1:50 PM on February 10, 2008


I want to be an astronaut too, except I'd never stop barfing. Sigh...
posted by Quietgal at 2:06 PM on February 10, 2008


How does it move like this? I know we are desensitized from watching too much scifi, but wouldn't the shuttle need some type of engine in the tip of it's nose pointed downward for such a maneuver? Maneuvering thrusters? Need more data.
posted by parallax7d at 3:24 PM on February 10, 2008


but wouldn't the shuttle need some type of engine in the tip of it's nose pointed downward for such a maneuver?

Yep, it's called the RCS, the Reaction Control System. Link even has a pic of some of the nozzles on the nose.
posted by eriko at 3:29 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chekov: Kepteyn. Enemy wessel is coming about.
Kirk: Hold phaser fire. Let's see what she's going to do.
Sulu: Weapons are locked, sir.
Spock: I must advise that we detect no conventional weapons, but we are unfamiliar with this civilization's technology. They could have some offensive capability that is undetectable to our instruments.
Kirk (confident): I have a hunch.
Spock: A hunch, Captain? Vulcans do not have hunches. They are illogical.
Chekov: Sir. Wessel is reaching target position.
Kirk: Bow shields at maximum.
Sulu: Shields maximum, sir.
A beat.
Chekov: Wessel has rotated out of weapons position, sir.
Spock (peering through science scope): They appear to have substantial defensive shielding. This could be a trap.
Uhura: Still no response on standard galactic frequencies, sir.
McCoy (stepping forward): They must have seen us!
Kirk (rotating chair toward Engineering station): Scotty, if she pulls something, what can you give us?
Scott: The dilithium crystals are in peak condition, Cap'n. Me bairns can give ye all ye need and then some.
Uhura: Sir, I'm picking up something!
Kirk (jumps to feet, leans close enough to smell her perfume): What is it?
Uhura: It sounds like ... music. Music, sir!
Spock (hits button to pipe sound to bridge): A waltz, Jim. Nineteenth century, proably German. I would say, in fact, it's Strauss.
(crescendo)
CUT TO: orbit SFX
FADE TO BLACK
END OF ACT ONE
posted by dhartung at 4:37 PM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Strictly speaking, the shuttle (or a spaceship) doesn't need thrusters. You can also do attitude control with internal gyros or otherwise use rotating masses inside the spacecraft.

On googling, the space station uses a set of internal gimbal-mounted gyroscopes for its attitude control.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:39 PM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Strictly speaking, the shuttle (or a spaceship) doesn't need thrusters. You can also do attitude control with internal gyros or otherwise use rotating masses inside the spacecraft.

On googling, the space station uses a set of internal gimbal-mounted gyroscopes for its attitude control.


Almost correct. The ISS uses a set of four Control Moment Gryoscopes (CMGs) that gimbal to control attitude. They are mounted outside on the Z1 Truss sticking up from Node-1. Periodically those momentum vectors converge and the CMGs are said to become 'saturated' and can no longer control the vehicle. When that comes close to happening thrusters in the Russian segment of the station fire to allow the vectors to separate. You can think of it like the CMGs are pushing against the thrusters to get back into a better position. Alternatively, the CMGs can be taken off-line and the thrusters will control attitude by themselves. CMGs save propellant because, when the station is in the proper attitude, the forces that tend to turn it one way or another tend to average out over time. The CMGs are able to absorb some momentum, get rid of rid, absorb some more, get rid of it, and so on, without using any propellant. This is known as being in "Torque Equilibrium Attitude" for obvious reasons. Finally, the Shuttle can also control the station's attitude when docked and will often do so when required in order to save ISS propellant.

The Hubble telescope attitude control system is similar but it has no thrusters at all. Instead, it has the ability to magnetize bars and push against the Earth's magnetic field to desaturate.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:12 PM on February 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


The BBC also has a related link to the real time version (cooler because you get the NASA audio and shuttle communication audio with it). I wonder if that guy could land a washing machine?
posted by spock at 5:57 PM on February 10, 2008


If you start playing The Blue Danube right after the countdown on the real time version, it's pretty neat.

I thought you were supposed to start it after the third lion's roar.
posted by starman at 6:00 PM on February 10, 2008


dhartung, that was freaking dead on.

this ranks right up there with baby polar bears, staring girls, and human beat box videos as . . .

No wait, this is different. This is awesome. You could never really see that shit in real life. And now you can. God bless the internet.

Anyone have any knowledge of the dynamics? How do you do that shit when you ain't got air to push on? How can you control that mofo like that? Space jockeys, some information plz.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:20 PM on February 10, 2008


fourcheesemac Anyone have any knowledge of the dynamics? How do you do that shit when you ain't got air to push on?
There's some discussion of the technologies involved some comments up.
Basically these technologies work using physical laws that also work in the absence of air.
Jet engines/thrusters f.i. work using the fact that the action of expelling hot gasses causes a reaction of a force on the shuttle in the opposite direction. No air to 'push' on necessary.
Some other technologies do need air.
Wings do need air since they 'hang' on the air (the shape of the wing causes underpressure above the wing). Turbines need air for their air intake.
posted by jouke at 9:18 PM on February 10, 2008


Hey, it's just like the Reaver ship in the pilot episode of Firefly.

Man, that was cool.
posted by spiderwire at 9:58 PM on February 10, 2008


You know, I was so interested in space and science when I was a kid and stuff like this still leaves me slack-jawed. You can keep your Battlestars or X-wings or Galaxy-Class whats-its. I'll take a trip on Atlantis any day.
posted by sambosambo at 3:58 AM on February 11, 2008


I was just reminded of this article by Neil deGrasse Tyson about how quaint and simple we now regard early technological breakthroughs like the first computers or cars, and yet how little spacefaring technology has advanced in the 40 years since man landed on the moon.
posted by sambosambo at 5:05 AM on February 11, 2008


They're spacewalking right now on NASA tv, installing the Columbus module.
posted by steef at 8:43 AM on February 11, 2008


"So Long, and Thanks for all the Liquid Hydrogen."

This was done using the dual hypergolic engines of the Orbital Maneuvering System, burning monomethylhydrazine with a nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.
posted by sindark at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2008


Oh my god that was cool.

I remember when the shuttle first started..shuttling, and every launch and landing was cause for Breaking News! type stuff on TV (as I remember, anyhow). Now it's kind of like, oh there's United flight 228 taking off for ______ - but footage like this reminds me how strange and wonderful the whole project is, and how humans sometimes manage to do some really amazing things.
posted by rtha at 9:28 AM on February 11, 2008


I know it's real, but it looked about as real as an episode of Thunderbirds

I remember watching my special features disk that came with Master and Commander, and the effects guy talking about watching film of actual sailing ships moving through heavy seas to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, the actual film of ships sailing through heavy seas looked completely fake, so they had to figure out how to fake something that would look more real than the real thing.
posted by not that girl at 9:20 PM on February 11, 2008


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