Start Rolling Your Blunts: Watch a Rocket's POV of a Satellite Launch

What it’s like to ride up to space with an Air Force missile warning satellite.

|
Jan 30 2018, 8:30pm

Image: Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams


When the United Launch Alliance (ULA) blasted an Atlas V rocket into space on January 19, the company—a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin—made sure to capture some close-up footage of the event from the ground at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. But while the launchpad view was certainly captivating, it has now been upstaged by a new ULA video released on Tuesday from the POV of the “rocket cams” hitched to the outside of the powerful vehicle.

Pointed down toward the blazing engines, the Atlas V cameras recorded the mission’s progress, from liftoff to the delivery of its payload—a US Air Force missile warning satellite called SBIRS GEO-4—into orbit. The visuals recorded by ULA are presented alongside voiceover from the launch director, which contextualizes each phase of the flight.

While it’s not unusual for launch services to film trips to space from this angle, the longer shots shown here paint a more complete picture than the average highlight reel. You can get a sense of the harrowing speeds and rapid altitude gains of the Atlas V, as well as what it looks like to shed stages and release payloads.

The final shot of SBIRS GEO-4 soundlessly puttering off to join its three older siblings in geostationary orbit is downright haunting.

Later, orbital traveler, and thanks for keeping watch for missiles.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.