Ride a rocket into space

THIS IS A GREAT VIDEO showing what it’s like to fly into space and back aboard a rocket.

On March 23, 2011, two on-board cameras followed a “sounding rocket” on its journey up to 285 kilometres altitude and back down again.

A sounding rocket is small, unmanned rocket that generally is shot straight up through the atmosphere. They’re often used to conduct measurements of conditions in the upper atmosphere and in space just above. They’re also sometimes used to make observations of astronomical objects out in space.

The main panel on the right shows the view looking backwards down the length of the rocket. The smaller panel on the left shows the view looking upward along the rocket. And in the upper left corner is a diagram showing the trajectory of the rocket.

Note also how the rocket spins during ascent. This is deliberate, and is done to keep it on course. It’s a gyroscopic effect.

Another thing to take note of is the sound. The sound of launch can be heard, as well as the rush as the rocket gains altitude. But the noise dies away after about a minute—this is because the air has become too thin for sounds to propagate easily.

Sounding rockets travel very fast and their flights are correspondingly brief.

In this case, the rocket was launched to measure solar energy output and make measurements that were used to calibrate an instrument on the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a Sun-monitoring spacecraft.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / GSFC.

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