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Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > Let's Ride a Rocket!

Let's Ride a Rocket!

YouTube Channel: Michael Interbartolo, posted March 15, 2012

The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable Earth orbital spacecraft operated by NASA between 1981 and 2011. Five Shuttle Orbiters were built and they were flown on a total of 135 missions all launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orbital missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, conducted science experiments in orbit, launched and serviced the Hubble Space Telescope, and conducted the bulk of constructing the International Space Station.

The complete Shuttle system consisted of the Orbital Vehicle (OV), an expendable External Fuel Tank (ET), and two large Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). The SRBs were jettisoned at two minutes into the launch and were recovered at sea for re-use. At the conclusion of the mission, the Shuttle itself landed on a runway at either the Kennedy Space Center or Edwards Air Force Base in California. Several main components of the Shuttle Orbiter were built on Long Island including the fin and rudder by Republic in Farmingdale; wings, ailerons and landing gear doors by Grumman in Bethpage and electronics by Sperry in Lake Success. Several flown components of the Space Shuttle may be seen on exhibit in the museum’s Space Exploration gallery including part of the fin, a fuel tank, and main landing gear tire. Every Long Island astronaut who has flown in space has ridden the Space Shuttle. 

Near the end of the Shuttle program, high definition cameras were mounted on the side of a booster rocket, looking fore and aft, which allowed us to see this remarkable video. Even more fascinating, the cameras had a microphone allowing us to actually hear a Shuttle launch from the side of a rocket. The video, of the entire booster phase of the launch, includes Orbiter separation at 1:58 (from several angles), parachute deployment at 6:48, and splashdown at 7:22. Watch how the Shuttle rapidly accelerates away and see the other booster rocket tumbling in the distance with the Earth spinning behind. After separation, notice the silence of space broken up only by the eerie sounds of metal expanding and flexing and then the roar of the violent re-entry.

So put it on fullscreen, crank up the volume and let’s ride a rocket!