This stunning video shows in slow motion the moment NASA tested the world’s largest rocket for the first time.
Designed to one day propel humans to Mars, the Space Launch System booster is pretty important. But so is the new camera that captured the test.
NASA describes its High Dynamic Range Stereo X project as a “revolutionary, high-speed, high dynamic range camera”, which recorded the booster in never before seen detail.
Rather than recording one exposure at a time, NASA’s latest camera records several different slow motion exposures at once. It then combines the footage into a stunning video that reveals the true intensity of the blast.
But the test didn’t exactly go to plan. Despite days of checks and several dry runs, when it came to the actual blast, the camera failed to turn on.
Engineers quickly hit the manual override, enabling the camera to capture footage just moments after ignition. But they failed to anticipate just how far the shockwaves from the booster would travel. They were so strong that the power cable came out of the power box.
But spirits rose when the team reviewed the footage later.
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Howard Conyers, a structural dynamist at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, said: “I was amazed to see the ground support mirror bracket tumbling and the vortices shedding in the plume.
“I was able to clearly see the exhaust plume, nozzle and the nozzle fabric go through its gimbaling patterns, which is an expected condition, but usually unobservable in slow motion or normal playback rates.”