This is such a wonderfully simple idea that I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before. It’s four well-known launch vehicles, launching, but with transparent bodies so you can see the amount of fuel and oxidiser in them, and how rapidly it gets consumed. It’s almost hypnotising.
This animation was done by Hazegrayart, a channel full of all kinds of great aerospace videos.
The four rockets are, from left to right, a Saturn V moon rocket, a Space Shuttle stack, a Space X Falcon Heavy rocket, and the upcoming NASA Space Launch System (SLS) launcher.
The fluids are colour coded: red is Kerosene (RP-1), orange is liquid hydrogen (LH2), blue is liquid oxygen (LOX), and the solid rocket boosters on the sides of the shuttle and SLS are shown with a column of plasma-like stuff indicating the solid fuel level.
Here’s the video:
There’s lots interesting here; of course, there’s the old but still alarming realisation just how much of the volume of a rocket getting to orbit from Earth is filled with fuel and oxidizer.
It’s also amazing to see the level of detail here—on the Falcon Heavy, for example, the centre booster is throttled back a bit compared to the side boosters, and the lessened fuel consumption can be seen here.
I love this. It’s so geeky and elegant and fascinating, a good reminder that almost all rocket launches are mostly sending silos of liquids up into the sky.
This article was originally published in May 2020.