Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Best of the Best" Shuttle Launches 1983~2010

Some pretty impressive film in super slow motion of the engines firing, and liftoff.
When I worked for Boeing on the Sea Launch program in the Range Operations Group, one of our responsibilities was to maintain the cameras that took footage like this. They were 16MM, 400 frames-per-second, and were housed in 3/8" thick steel plate housings. The windows the cameras were pointed out of were about 5" in diameter, and made of two layers of borosilicate glass. Depending on the launch profile, the outer window would usually get trashed, but sometimes came through the launch without a scratch.
The housings, on the other hand, got pretty beat up every launch. After each launch we'd open up the enclosures (about 60 1/2" bolts), pull the cameras out, put the tops back on the enclosures, and do a minor sealing up with silicone caulk for the trip home. The cameras and enclosures got a full check-out, cleaning, and complete sealing once we got down to the launch site for the next launch. Every two years or so we had to scrape off the ablative coating and reapply it, and it was nasty stuff to work with!
Anyway....knowing the work that goes in to just getting these films makes me appreciate their beauty all the more.

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