In a video that looks like something a special effects shop would produce, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has captured one of the most remarkable views of a rocket launch we’ve ever seen.
This extraordinary timelapse shows the launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket that took flight on November 16, 2018 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A Progress MS-10 spacecraft filled with 2564kg worth of cargo sat atop the rocket, which is seen en route to the International Space Station.
The ISS is about 400km above the Earth’s surface, and it moves at around 28,000km/h. Supply runs are launched after the ISS flies overhead, allowing the cargo craft to pursue and catch-up to the outpost in about two days, which in this case was November 18, 2018.
Armed with a camera, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst shot the video while inside the European-built Cupola module. The playback ranges between eight to 16 times normal speed, and it compresses 15 minutes of footage into a single minute.
In terms of notable moments, the Soyuz-FG rocket booster separation happens at the 7-second mark, followed by the core stage separation at 19 seconds. At 34 seconds, the core stage begins to burn in the atmosphere, returning to Earth after exhausting its fuel supply. Watching it burn on reentry is actually quite cool. After this stage, the Progress spacecraft separates from the rocket and enters an orbit in pursuit of the ISS.
Gerst’s video offers a perspective of a rocket launch we’re not typically used to, but it’s yet another reminder of just how spectacular the view is from the ISS. As breathtaking as this video is, however, it probably pales in comparison to what it’s like in person.