When the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on June 8th, 2011 it marked the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. The video above harkens back to that not-so-long-ago era of space shuttles, and gives us an incredible view of a shuttle launch the likes of which we’ve not had the opportunity to share before.
The clip is an extra that will appear on the special edition DVD/Blu-ray of the documentary Ascent: Commemorating Shuttle. Although we’ve shared some spectacular launch videos and photographs in the past, this one takes the cake. It gives us a high-definition ride on a rocket booster up to about 150,000 ft (where they detach), and then back down through the scorching atmosphere.
We get to watch — and, thanks to the folks at Skywalker Sound, hear as well — as the rocket takes off, rolls to achieve max dynamic pressure, breaks the sound barrier around 1:12, and then keeps accelerating into space. All of the sound is real, and was simply mastered by the Skywalker folks to bring it out — nothing fake about it.
Once the rocket has reached the appropriate altitude, the boosters and their attached camera equipment are jettisoned, and begin their graceful descent back to Earth.
The boosters ultimately make a not-quite-soft landing in the water, aided by a few parachutes. The video comes to a close as we watch the second booster land some distance away from the first, but thankfully still within the frame.
It really is an amazing video; a rocket booster’s perspective from T-minus 10 seconds all the way to splash down. For those of us who don’t see a SpaceX flight in our future, this camera footage might be the closest we get to a real launch.