I’ve seen some of this footage before but never heard the commentary. The narrators go into some really interesting detail on the tech involved in capturing the film footage of Shuttle launches. Most of the footage is for review purposes but some is purely documentary. All of the footage is beautiful though. It amazed me that they still used film all the way up until the end of the Shuttle program. They’re also shooting at higher frame rates so you get some great slow motion in there.
The lenses used range all the way up to a 4000mm, 250lb., catadioptric for the medium range tracking system. The Shuttle program was undoubtedly one of the greatest technical achievements humankind will ever produce (and I’m guessing the last of it’s scale), so I suppose it’s fitting that it was documented with a 100+ camera array of some of the most sophisticated optics available.
This was part of a DVD put together detailing some of the best footage from the later Shuttle launches.
Full video is here (be sure to switch to the 720p version!)
CollectSpace gives us one last look at the now defunct Shuttle Atlantis. Incredible detail in these interiors, I can’t even imagine the level of engineering and testing that went into even the smallest components on this spacecraft. More images here.
Further reading / viewing – Discovery: A Visual Eulogy
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful, moving images of the Shuttle lately but none have felt so intimate as these by Justin Ray for Spaceflight Now. Something about these photos of the now decommissioned spacecraft, engines removed, mission complete, bring the idea of it to life like none I’ve seen thus far. It’s the textures and details that highlight what an incredible machine this was and what a profound achievement for humankind it represents.
And look at that lettering! I’ve never seen it so close; it has such a handmade feel to it at this scale. The logos and typography of the Shuttle program always intrigued me, they seemed to represent the idea of the United States as a brand, an ideal to be consumed by the rest of the world. Then when Canadarm was installed on STS-2 it became apparent that even other — less crazy — countries felt the desire to push themselves as a brand in space. Of course, pushing your national space-brand became a bit more accessible with the ISS, but the US and Canada used Helvetica and were way ahead of the curve so I’d say they won whatever prize you get for most recognizable space-brand.
I wonder what we all gained growing up in a world where the Shuttle existed. I know it was a big part of my consciousness as a kid and probably had something to do with how I felt about my national identity. For me it symbolized the combined efforts of some of our greatest minds collectively reaching for a better understanding of the world we live in. For some — and perhaps rightly so — it probably represented a colossal waste of resources in the face of more earthly problems. Maybe it was both, but I I’ll personally miss it as a symbol of what we as humans can achieve when we work together.
More Pictures at Spaceflight Now