rocket test
Orbital ATK's QM-2 solid rocket booster test taken by NASA's High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera. NASA

NASA’s new camera films a rocket booster test-firing

Video of a rocket booster from private company Orbital ATK test-firing, captured by NASA’s new hi-def camera.

Rockets are hard to record. They’re loud, Earth-shaking, and very, very bright. Not ideal conditions for sensitive recording equipment.

To capture a plume in all its explosive awesomeness, NASA developed the High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera. The space agency recently took its new toy on a test run, recording Orbital ATK’s QM-2 solid rocket booster. And, holy crap, is it glorious!

Without HiDyRS-X camera
Before: The SLS rocket captured using standard recording equipment loses much of the plume’s detail to overexposure. Traditional cameras record one exposure at a time. NASA
Rocket using HiDyRS-X camera
After: Using the HiDyRS-X camera reveals usually unobservable gimbaling patterns of the nozzle, the ground support mirror bracket tumbling away and vortices shedding in the plume. The HiDyRS-X records and combines multiple slow motion video exposures at once. NASA

This is the final booster test before the Space Launch System rocket takes its first test flight in 2018. When completed, SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world, as the first exploration-class vehicle to complete design review in almost 40 years. It’ll be our ride to deep space, and eventually, Mars.

Queue up your favorite dubstep/concerto/opera/heavy metal song, and let the test video rip: