NASA test foiled by rocket shaking power cord loose from camera

Snapper built to take you inside a rocket plume eventually produced stunning images


Video NASA has built a new camera that can show what's going inside the plume of hot gases produced by rockets, but the device failed during a test because “the sheer power of the booster shook the ground enough for the power cable to be removed from the power box.”

Aside from that SNAFU, the new High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera did a grand job. The camera was built because conventional kit struggles with the extreme brightness of a rocket.

Without good images, rocket boffins can't gather data to improve performance. And seeing as rockets and their payloads remain rather expensive, efforts to gather better data are entirely worthwhile.

Hence the HiDyRS-X project's approach of using multiple cameras, all shooting in slow motion. That data is later combined into a single high dynamic range video that manages to capture everything beautifully.

The results are best-described in pictures. Here's a shot of what old cameras could capture inside a rocket plume.

Conventional camera looking at a rocket plume

Image of Space Launch System Qualification Motor 2 test or, QM-2, without using HiDyRS-X camera.. Image: NASA Embiggen here

And here's what HiDyRS-X can do:

hidrys camera looking at a rocket plume

Image of Space Launch System Qualification Motor 2 test or, QM-2, with HiDyRS-X camera. Image: NASA. Embiggen here

And here's three minutes of Warhol-esque video shot with the camera.

Youtube Video

NASA boffins are thrilled with the results, as the video apparently shows gimbaling patterns and vortices that are expected, but have not previously been observed.

The video and images above were captured by HiDyRS-X during tests of “Qualification Motor 2”, a rocket booster planned to become part of NASA's Space Launch System due for takeoff in 2018. Each booster can produce 3.6 million pounds of thrust, making the entire SLS the most capable launch vehicle humanity has produced to date. ®


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