Archives For kennedy space center

Launch shot captured by Julian Leek.

Launch shot of the Atlas V and the MAVEN spacecraft captured by Julian Leek.

In the world of modern spaceflight, we are spoiled with close up imagery of rockets launching. Thanks to cameras mounted on the side of rockets we often get to ride along with the rocket watching stage separations in real time. After witnessing my first rocket launch in March of this year, SpaceX CRS-2 mission, I began wondering what type of photography equipment was needed to capture a rocket launch. With all of the long distance transmitting we see with space flight, it’s easy to imagine photographers in a room monitoring and maneuvering their cameras as the launch takes place. That doesn’t even come close to reality.

Before each NASA Kennedy Space Center launch, photographers from around the world gather on the launch pad to set up remotely triggered cameras. Getting the launch pad money shot is risky and involves careful positioning to keep cameras stable and protected from debris shooting from the launch pad flame duct. Before these cameras face earth shaking vibrations from the rocket engines igniting, they are often subjected to harsh coastal winds, rains, and changing temperatures—all of which are a camera’s worst enemy.

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Monday, November 18th, marks the first launch window for NASA’s next mission to Mars. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), is NASA’s tenth Mars orbiter to be launched since 1996. MAVEN is the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mar’s upper atmosphere. This mission has three primary objectives:

  1. Determine the history of the structure and composition of the Martian upper atmosphere.
  2. The cause and rate that gasses escape the atmosphere to space.
  3. Use collected data to measure the prognosis of future atmospheric loss.

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I represented Pinehead as a part of a recent NASA Social event which allowed social media users access on the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to cover the SpaceX CRS-2 launch on Friday, March 1. The day before the launch we were shown the Vehicle Assembly Building, launch pads, attended press conferences and science briefings, and had Q&A time with NASA officials.

If you think about space travel in the United States today, the outlook can seem dismal. The most recent major news about NASA has been the Shuttle retirement and the $726 million NASA will lose to sequestration. It’s no wonder people think NASA is closing down. What I discovered during my time KCS is, while budgets and active programs may be reduced, momentum at NASA has not been shaken.

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