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  SplashdownMar 11, 2011 3:34 AM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Gosh, I guess it took me a long time to draw this one. Hmph. I got to be my own forearm model! *Possibly* exaggerating the size of the muscles and veins just a *little*. *cough*
Well since I've only got one page to show for my work today, I'd better roll in some science. Ah! Okay, remember how last week I was talking about the Glory satellite and its rocket falling back to Earth? Well, conveniently enough, just about a week ago, NASA posted a video showing footage of a Shuttle rocket booster falling back to Earth, from Discovery's February 24th launch. You can go along from multiple cameras, from launch to splashdown--it's quite a ride: the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters help take it up to about 46 km in about two minutes (you can see them blow off here 126 seconds into launch), and are then jettisoned, still firing, and take about three and a half minutes to fall that 46 km back down into the ocean. I suppose you might not want to watch this if you're afraid of heights--or if you get dizzy easily, because they're spinning around until they deploy their parachute: looks to me like that happens with the first one after about 336 seconds or so (110 seconds of falling), since that's when it suddenly stabilizes and falls straight down for the remaining minute or so (394 seconds after launch). You can see part of the parachute in the water with the rocket at 420 seconds.
There's puff of smoke at 380 seconds, and a splash at 386 seconds, right before the booster itself lands. This is something being ejected from the booster--not sure what.
The middle, "Intertank" camera has sound--lots of whooshing the crackling! At about 15:16, it gets a great view of one of the boosters flying off after ejection. At about 16:11 (180 seconds after launch) it goes into a great spinning view of Earth, eerily quiet except for some slight rhythmic hissing of gas. You can see what I think is the other booster falling, too: at around 17:00 on the video (230 seconds after launch), at 17:46 (275 seconds after launch), and again at 18:43, 333 seconds after launch. Hm actually you see something with a distinctly different trail--straight, not curled--at 18:01 (290), so...heck, I wonder what one of those is; maybe some connecting piece that blew off separately. The intertank camera also gets a great view of the Sun over the ocean at 19:00 (350 seconds after launch), right before it blacks out, and--oh! You can see its chutes deploying at 364 seconds (19:15 into the video), and they seem to unfurl completely about twenty seconds later, just a bit before splashdown.
The videos from the right booster start at 20:33, with another great separation shot at 22:58, and a nice sweep across Earth's horizon starting at about 23:10 (just 12 seconds after separation, so that's still probably above 40 km up), including what must be a trailing view of the Shuttle still jetting upward at 23:11, a flashing bright star. And then that long long fall again, this time with smoke from the sputtering booster jet puffing across the view. The right tank lands a bit later than the left did, 402 seconds after launch (25:17 in the video), and again right before landing you can see smoke from something ejecting from the bottom (25:00), falling as a ring-shaped object (~25:05), and then splashing down (25:09) right before the booster itself; I wonder if that's the thruster skirt, ejected because it would probably break off anyway and possibly damage the booster if it was still attached on splashdown?
The next camera view has separation at about 28:06 (no launch timer on this one), before which you can see some really neat flickering of the thrusters playing over the bottom of the Shuttle's wing; and this separation has a great angle showing the Shuttle soaring up above the separated boosters, engines blazing at full throttle, with the main fuel tank still attached. Man that's cool! And there's lens flare from the engine glare--the director of that last Star Trek movie would be proud (although the glare is yellow rather than blue). Sound kicks in from the last camera a little while later.
The right booster's "Intertank" camera starts at 28:38, cutting right to the view of the booster's just-deployed parachutes. It's got a nice view of the chutes falling into the water, and you can hear all these echoey clanks from the hollow booster. These boosters are rescued and re-used, but I guess with the shuttle program shutting down soon (and Discovery making its final landing yesterday, after a 26-year flying career that saw it clock 365 days in space total, the most of any ship (that's from Wikipedia, and they specify "spaceship" because obviously they aren't counting space stations and so forth)).
Anyway, as you can tell I had fun watching the video again. :) And speaking of space stations, check out the first comment someone left on the video: "please can u tell me how to contact the ISS can anyone help" (no final punctuation). :o
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