This week, NASA and Orbital Sciences sent the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station. By now, you know what a rocket launch looks like – TV and pop culture have generally taught you that plumes of smoke rise, the base of the rocket glows red as its flame tails it, and it appears to slowly rip through the sky.
As I was lucky enough to be at the Antares launch, I can tell you that while all these things are basically true (as I’ve explained them in the most elementary terms), mere words cannot convey what seeing a rocket launch in person is like. If you want the real deal, NASA has provided plenty of HD, professional quality photos and videos.
Being that I was there with NASA Social, however, there were also plenty of non-professional, non-HD takes on the launch – per the usual suspect, Instagram. Are these the highest quality shots and recordings of the Antares launch? Absolutely not. Are they fun to look at? You betcha. Even NASA got in on the action, uploading its own photos (which were professionally-taken, mind you) to its brand new Instagram account.
Do you find it just a smidgen ridiculous that people would point their iPhones at the sky when NASA and other professional photographers are there do capture the whole thing with cameras and lenses that amount to more than some of our combined salaries? Then you’re not alone; even NASA told us that if it’s your first launch, put the phone or camera down and appreciate it. But when you want to share (or humblebrag) about seeing the thing up close (or as up close to a rocket as you can get), then you can’t be faulted for turning to the 150 million users-strong app.
If you want to appreciate Antares via the image-communication tool of the masses, then proceed. If not, hit up the previously mentioned links to NASA’s own site. And keep your Instagram-shaming one-liners to yourself, please and thanks.