This time-lapse video captured a rocket launching in space
This time-lapse video captured a rocket launching in space

We’ve all seen rockets launch from a space station in theaters, but have you seen one launch outside of Hollywood? If you haven’t check this video out.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst filmed the launch of a Progress rocket from the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS orbits at 18,000 miles per hour and 250 high and often needs to replenish its supplies. Unmanned cargo modules send fuel, oxygen, water and food to the station. The latest delivery was on November 16th and Gerst captured the lift-off sequence of the Russian Soyuz rocket as the ISS was passing over the launch pad.

Spacecraft are launched once the Space Station flies over, so Gerst could capture a time-lapse. Some of the notable moments in the video include the Soyuz-FG rocket booster separation at 0:07. At 0:20 you see the Core stage separation. At 0:34, the Progress spacecraft separates from the rocket and enters orbit to catch up with the ISS. Finally, at 0:37 the Core stage starts burning in the atmosphere.

What camera did Gerst use to capture the time-lapse?

Gerst used a Nikon D5 to record the rocket launch. Nikon is the official provider of the ISS cameras.

Gerst used a Nikon D5 to film the rocket launch
Gerst used a Nikon D5 to film the rocket launch

The European Space Agency says “The images were taken from the European-built Cupola module with a camera set to take pictures at regular intervals. The pictures are then played quickly after each other at 8 to 16 times normal speed. The video shows around 15 minutes of the launch at normal speed.”

What’s really compelling about this time-lapse is how unspectacular it is. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great video that’s remarkably interesting. But we tend to romanticize events like rocket launches, namely because of films and TV shows. When we think of rocket launches, we associate that event with adrenaline-pumping, loud and powerful imagery. However, this time-lapse is peaceful and calm and may disappoint. Nevertheless, the video shows space exploration and rocket launches in a realistic, unromanticized and unremarkable light — and that’s remarkable.

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