YouTuber explains mechanics behind those amazing SpaceX rocket launch videos

As with pretty much all rocket launches these days, space fans are spoiled with stunning footage of the start of each mission as the rocket soars into the sky at incredible speed.

If you’ve ever wondered how the pictures are captured, then a video from new YouTuber Primal Space does a great job in explaining.

The video kicks off by showing the sort of setup required if you were trying to get the same kind of footage using a regular DSLR camera. First up, you’d need something like a 10,000mm lens (sorry, you’ll have to build it yourself) for the rocket to fill the frame for a good part of its ascent.

But even then, forget tracking it manually. A massive focal length likes that means every little movement would be magnified to such an extent that your footage would be a total mess, as a clip in the video nicely shows.

Having explained just how accurate and precise the tracking has to be, Primal Space’s video goes on to explain about the kind of technology used for today’s launches.

Each of the main launch pads in the U.S. is surrounded by several long-range tracking cameras that look more like missile launchers than photography equipment. In fact, there is a warfare connection here, as each setup is actually part of a Kineto tracking mount initially developed by the military to track aircraft and missiles.

shots spacex rocket launches contraves goerz kineto tracking mount

In the early ’70s, rigs like this would be controlled by skilled operators, Primal Space explains. But as you’d expect, many of the tracking functions now take place automatically, enabling reliable footage of every rocket launch.

And all that detailed footage isn’t simply to entertain audiences sitting at home. For the engineers behind the missions, the videos provide vital information on the state of the launch and the rocket’s performance as it climbs in the sky.

“NASA uses a mix of digital and film cameras on these mounts,” the narrator says. “The short-range tracking cameras make use of a high-speed frame rate and shutter speeds, which are useful for rocket companies to analyze their rockets in great detail during the launch sequence.”

Such footage helped investigators to work out the cause of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, leading to changes to enhance the shuttle’s safety for subsequent flights.

The video also notes how the launch pads now have the very latest video technology for amazingly detailed live-streams of today’s rocket launches.

“The method behind filming and broadcasting a rocket launch is actually very difficult,” the narrator says. “As the technology of the tracking systems and the cameras continue to improve, we can look forward to seeing more amazing shots like this.”

Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Using A.I., Lightroom can now boost the resolution of RAW photos

Need to eek a bit more resolution out of a RAW file? Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw can help with a new feature called Detail Enhance. The tool uses A.I. in the demosaicing process to enhance details and reduce artifacts.
Photography

Corel VideoStudio adds tools for customizing color in simple video edits

VideoStudio is Corel's more consumer-oriented video editor but the software recently gained advanced color correction tools. The update adds custom transitions, along with speeding up performance, and adding new shortcuts.
Photography

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.
Computing

500px reveals almost 15 million users are caught up in security breach

Almost 15 million members of portfolio website 500px have been caught up in a security breach. The hack occurred in 2018 but was only discovered last week. Users are being told to change their 500px password as soon as possible.
Photography

Olympus packs an enormous zoom ability in its latest interchangeable lens

The Olympus Digital ED M.Zuiko 12-200mm F/3.5-6.3 has the widest zoom range of any interchangeable lens with a 16.6x zoom. The lens, which covers a 24-400mm equivalent, is also weather sealed.
Photography

Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The Nikon Z series finally has a bright zoom available without an adapter. The Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S offers new coatings and more customizable controls in a smaller, lighter body than the comparable F-mount lens.
Photography

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Photography

Fujifilm’s X-T30 is a semi-pro, feature-rich camera that’s affordable to boot

Fujifilm's newest mirrorless camera delivers the premium features of the X-T3 without the premium price, giving aspiring enthusiasts a lower-cost option that can still match the image quality of Fuji's flagship.