Category Archives: Video

Night Launch

This past Saturday they had a night launch of the shuttle (Discovery STS-116). I was on my way off to work but I delayed 15 minutes to bring the video camera outside and catch it. There were some hazy clouds near the horizon that weren’t visible to me until illuminated by the launch. I’m about 150 miles from the space center as the crow flies, so any launch from there takes about 10-15 seconds to clear my horizon and come into view.

I’m sure you’ve all seen amateur video of small objects moving against the sky and mumbled to yourself “Why couldn’t this idiot keep the camera still and in focus?” Well, mostly-still wasn’t too hard but the focus? …Sheesh! I tried to keep some foreground objects in the frame but it didn’t help much. My next camcorder is going to have a manual focus option if such a thing exists!

Here’s the video from my front yard. Watch it HERE (5.7 MB).

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view this movie file.

For some really spectacular on-scene photos visit For the Birds: Night Launch

I have the next 4 nights in a row off so I hope to finally see first light on the new scope. Keep your fingers crossed.

NASA posts Solid Rocket Booster Video

On Sunday NASA (quietly?) posted video of the launch of STS-121 Discovery taken from cameras mounted on the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). These videos are in Windows Media Player 9 format. For those of you on Macs (like me) I recommend the Flip4Mac WMV plugin for Quicktime — it’s free and works well.

In the first short video clip (1.31 MB) you see the SRB separation and the shuttle pulling away… magnificent! It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie.


In this second much longer clip (156 MB) you ride the booster from launch all the way until splashdown in the ocean!!! The whole clip runs about 11 minutes. JUST FREAKING RIDICULOUSLY BREATHTAKING!!! It doesn’t get much better than this (OK so I’m a dork).

animated screenshot

So RUN — don’t walk — over to the NASA – Space Shuttle page and check them out! They’ve also got some sweet video coverage of the last space walk.

Terragen: Flight Over Olympus Mons

Sounds cool eh?

I took a Digital Elevation Map (DEM) of the surface of Mars, isolated the area around Olympus Mons, and imported it into Terragen. I then created a camera script of fly over the martian volcano. Admittedly I could have done a much better job with the surface texture and the vertical scale is a little off… but you get the idea! It took 14 hours to render this on my dual 1 GHz processor Mac so it wasn’t like I could say “oops let me fix that” and buzz off another render. Next time I’ll endeavor to get the scene looking perfect BEFORE I run the job.

My intention is to do a fly-though of Valles Marineris.

Anyway, here’s (6.9 MB)

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view the file.

New Horizons Launch Attempt Today

Greetings and welcome back to the “Big Rocket Show.”

12:54 PM: So far so good.

– Announcing green for all weather constraints.
– Built in 10 minute hold coming up at T-4 minutes.
– Clouds need to thin a little or the launch will be delayed while they switch to a different weather configuration.

1:04 PM: No go due to cloud ceiling limits. Looking for launch at 1:13 PM EST

1:12 PM: Looking for launch at 1:30 PM EST

– Double checking launch path area cleared of all vessels
– Waiting on weather team to make the call

1:23 PM: Looking for launch at 1:40 PM EST

1:35 PM: Set indefinite hold.

I’m seeing even more low level clouds on the webcast here of NASA TV. You guys need a pack of matches or something?!?! You’re killing me! (I jest)

1:39 PM: Load design set 29 from balloon LR6 (updated weather profile).

1:46 PM: Looking for launch at 2:00 PM EST pending resolution of low clouds.

1:50 PM: Go for launch at 2:00 PM EST. Range observers have cleared the weather issues but will continue to monitor the cloud situation in real-time.

1:53 PM: All aspects of the support team have been polled and are go to resume the count T-4.

1:56 PM: The count has resumed. 4 minutes until launch and counting.

2:00 PM: LIFT OFF!

If you missed it Watch the Launch (7.5 MB) recorded from NASA TV as it happened.

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view this movie file.
Images and video in this post are screen grabs from NASA TV.