VIDEO: Amazing Space

CNET: New NASA Footage Gets a Little Spacey

One particularly strange–well nigh psychedelic–section of the footage begins at about 16:40, with an eerie moaning sound. It’s a Hollywood sound designer’s fever dream, as we hear spooky breathing noises; creaking and groaning; a banshee wail. And the cinematographer isn’t doing too well, either: The Earth starts spinning and warping; spiky lens flares streak out from the sun; a trail of smoke from the other lost booster angles across the frame.

Then all goes black but for two demonlike eyes of light. A dragon growls. Then: all black. A sudden explosion of light and a raptor’s scream. A strange symbol appears and metamorphoses into jellyfish, mushrooms, space flowers, parachutes. A last wrenching clank of sound as a setting sun appears and we splash down into the Atlantic, the parachutes settling into the sea.

Stanley Kubrick couldn’t have done it any better.

Amazing video.  The sounds that the folks at CNET have written about are indeed spooky, but for me nothing compares with the moment that the aft cameras (on either side) capture the separation of the solid rocket booster from Endeavor and the external fuel tank.

Since President Obama announced his plans to draw down the space program at NASA–reserving the agency for more important things, like Muslim outreach–I have felt a sense of loss when it came to such matters.  Ever since I was a child, I wanted to visit the Space Coast and watch a launch in person.  Now, those opportunities are dwindling, and dwindling fast, and that rapidly closing window combined with the realities of my life mean that I will never see a shuttle launch.

For those of us who grew up as NASA overcame the Challenger disaster, watching as Voyager spacecraft, Mars probes and the Hubble telescope returned photographs and images of our solar system and beyond, we don’t have to have walked on the surface of the moon to be disappointed in the prospects of our space program, diminished to the point where American astronauts will be forced to hitch a ride with their Russian counterparts for the foreseeable future.  It is enough to understand that we are taking a step backward rather than forward, consigning for museum observance perhaps the most prominent symbol of American ingenuity.  However, like with the soon-to-be-retired incandescent light bulb, the space shuttle will soon be replaced with a shinier, more “green” successor.  Still, the novelty will never have passed.

Enjoy the video.  It is well worth the time.

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