Watching rocket launches never gets old. And this week’s Atlas V launch carrying thousands of pounds worth of supplies to the International Space Station was no different. NASA tried something new with the world’s first 360-degree rocket launch. Too bad the video glitched for several seconds right at launch.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has our back though. Today, they uploaded footage showing the entire ride from Florida to space. All from the rocket’s perspective.
Fun fact: This week’s launch was the first time ULA executed their RapidLaunch service. Sometimes you need to get to space fast. Last September, ULA touted a timetable as fast as three months from order placement to launch. For this mission, the contract was finalized just five months ago. It’s not Amazon Prime, but it’s pretty damn fast for getting to space.
83 seconds after launch, the Atlas V rocket reaches Mach-1 (the speed of sound). Seconds later, the vehicle experiences maximum dynamic pressure. This is often called Max-Q and represents the maximum amount of aerodynamic stress on a vehicle.
As the Atlas V gets close to booster engine cutoff, the rocket is traveling at 10,000 miles per hour. The Atlas has already traveled 79 miles into the air and another 172 miles down range.
A little more than four minutes after launch, the main booster engine shuts off. Six seconds after that, the booster stage separates. Ten more seconds pass before the main Centaur engine roars to life. After a 14-minute burn, the Centaur engine cuts off. Shortly after that, the Cygnus spacecraft separates.
All this happens in 21 minutes. Now, the Cygnus spacecraft sits in orbit and gets ready to be grabbed by the ISS crew this weekend. The station’s robotic, Canadarm2 will grab the Cygnus spacecraft and attach it to the Unity module on Saturday. Check out this beautiful image showing the arm grabbing hold of a Cygnus spacecraft last October.
Two new ISS crew members, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer, will help Oleg Novitskiy, Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet unpack the more than 7,600 pounds worth of supplies and gear coming on Saturday.
Here’s a bonus clip of the Russian rocket being rotated into position before this morning’s successful launch carrying the two new crew.
Impressive to see this massive launch vehicle hoisted into the vertical with only inches to spare as it is inserted into the launch pad. pic.twitter.com/mS1ErasyhA