Watch SpaceX's 'Unfathomable' Starlink Launch in Stunning 1,000 FPS Video
The footage reveals a new side to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX’s recent Starlink launch set the company’s incredible plan to deliver global internet via satellite into motion. Now, video from the launch has been recast in super slow-motion footage, documenting what could be the start of a new era in internet connectivity in stunning new detail.
The rocket lifted off on May 23 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral in Florida, carrying 60 test satellites. It’s all part of SpaceX’s plan for a giant satellite internet constellation, which promises high speeds and latency low enough to play video games from almost anywhere in the world. The footage released this week, which captured the event at over 1,000 frames per second, shows the Falcon 9 pushing through the air with intense force to send the payload out of the atmosphere.
“I love it,” Ryan Chylinski, one half of the team that captured the launch, tells Inverse. “It’s captivating, stunning and often we can see things that are just unfathomable…unthinkable.”
Chylinski works with his partner MaryLiz Bender on their project Cosmic Perspective, where they travel around documenting rocket launches with SpaceX, NASA and ULA. The pair also made headlines earlier this year when they captured SpaceX’s Demo-1 Crew Dragon launch. The Starlink footage uses a Chronos 2.1 high-speed camera, plus a series of triggers and timers.
“Filmed at over 1,000 frames per second, the main shot shows the beautiful detail of a Falcon 9 with Starlink ever-so-slowly lifting off the pad,” Chylinski says. “I absolutely love filming in high-speed and I have no fear sharing these long-form artistic cuts. Six seconds of liftoff easily turns into six minutes of footage. Combine a few different highspeed and normal speed captures and you’ve got a mini-feature from a single launch.”
To capture the footage, the pair positioned time-lapse and high-speed cameras near the launch sites. They use a combination of timers and trigger systems to ensure the cameras trigger just at the point of liftoff and not a few seconds out. Chylinskionly has a short amount of time to complete the setup, before evacuating the area like everyone else between eight and 15 hours ahead of liftoff. Solar panels and high-capacity batteries are used to ensure the setup could handle waiting a further 24 hours in the case of a delay.
Beyond slow-motion footage, they also produce augmented reality and 360-degree videos. One such project, “Guidance Internal: Lessons from Astronauts,” covers an augmented reality-powered book to tell astronauts’ stories.
Preparation for these launches is an intensive process. Chylinski says the current setup is “the results of months of testing, tweaking, failures and glorious success.”
The end result is a launch that dazzles, capturing SpaceX’s most impressive achievements as they’re lifted into the air. The constellation is set to feature thousands of satellites, some of them orbiting just 550 kilometers above the ground, to deliver a latency of just 15 milliseconds. Some estimates suggest the system could halve communication times between London and Singapore, thanks to the laser system that bounces information through the vacuum of space and avoids fiber optic cables.
All of this is set to power a business that could eclipse SpaceX’s current model of launching satellites for commercial clients. While launches as an industry make around $5 billion annually, SpaceX estimates in 2017 suggest the Starlink system could bring in $20 billion as early as 2025.
All of this could help humanity transition into a multi-planet species, one of CEO Elon Musk’s long-stated goals. The company is building the Starship with the goal of transporting humans to Mars and beyond, with a Raptor engine capable of refueling with resources found on other planets. The planet-hopping system could help humans establish permanent colonies on other planets.
“As a full-time traveler, to have high-bandwidth reliable connectivity, and an alternative to cell networks wherever we go would be a huge upgrade… and to know that, in exchange, the service also helps fuel SpaceX’s mission to develop technologies and make humanity a multi-planetary species is a multi-level win,” Chylinski says.
It all starts with a slow-motion rocket launch.