ESA astronaut captures intriguing video of Russian space launch from orbit
We're used to seeing space launches from the ground, but when the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft lifted off on November 16 from Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst had the best seat in the house. Orbiting 400 km above the Earth on the International Space Station (ISS), Gerst captured a time-lapse video of the ascending Soyuz rocket as it began its two-day journey to the station.
The video was taken by a camera installed in the European-built Cupola module programmed to take images at regular intervals. Replayed at normal speed, the first 15 minutes of the unmanned Progress spacecrafts flight is compressed to around one minute.
The video shows a number of highlights of the launch. First, the Soyuz-FGs strap-on rocket boosters separate followed by the booster core, which burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Progress separates from the rocket and continues on into orbit with its 750 kg (1,653 lb) of propellant, 75 kg (165 lb) of oxygen and air and 440 l (96.8 gal) of water for the ISS.
This isn't the first time that a rocket launch has been seen from orbit. The crew of Gemini 7 witnessed the lift off of Gemini 6A in 1965, but it isn't easy. Not only does the spacecraft have to be in the right place and at the right distance, but the small flame of a rocket against the glare of the Earth means that the launch has to take place at a time when the sun is still rising or setting at the pad location.