SpaceX's High-Speed Launch and Landing Footage Melts Minds



High-speed footage tends to be profound and beautiful, as do rocket launches. When we see rocket landings, new to the world as they are, our minds tend to melt a little bit. On Tuesday, SpaceX completed the trifecta: it shared a high-speed video of its rockets launching and landing. The footage is, as one would expect, profound and a little beautiful.

In the video, fire behaves as if it were a liquid. Rocket exhaust looks like nebulae; sparks and smoke become solar systems. Re-entry burns seem as though they’re imploding black holes or veiled messages from the gods. In slow motion, propulsion defies understanding. And rocket science, in this medium, appears simple.

SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk would beg to differ: He and his team have been toiling to perfect this incredible art — the art of shooting a rocket into orbit, then guiding it, intact, back whence it came, back to a floating launchpad in the middle of the ocean. Taken out of context — removing the innumerable hours of tinkering with mathematics and mechanics, ignoring the number of great minds at work on this project and their many resultant headaches — the feat is not something an archetypal human would ever believe. (“Yes, we are going to take this enormous object, shoot it miles and miles into the sky, let it roam up there for a while, then guide it back to earth. Then we’re going to land it on a floating football field,” one might say.)

This video does just that: it removes the context, and allows your mind to marvel, simply and peacefully, at SpaceX’s accomplishments. (If you prefer some context, here it is, via SpaceX: “Missions in order of appearance: May JCSAT-14; July CRS-9 launch, stage separation, engine plume interaction, and re-entry burn; December 2015 ORBCOMM landing burn; July CRS-9 landing burn.”)

Sit back, relax, and allow the high-speed footage to sate your very soul. And dream of Mars.

Or, if you prefer GIFs, look no further.

Here, presumably — given what looks to be fire-extinguishing torrents — is a landing:


And, not to be outdone, a launch:


Continuing the journey upward:

Full-body shot of the rocket, mid-flight:

Exhaust nebulae:

What looks like it could be the formation of a galaxy:

Thrusters, in all their glory:

A successful landing:

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