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10/07: Best Fourth of July fireworks ever

Long time no post... sorry, it's been a busy summer.

NASA outdid every other fireworks show in the country this Independence Day with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. Burning 1.5 tons of fuel per second on takeoff, the 120-ton (plus cargo) Shuttle reaches speeds of 4.8 miles per second (that's almost 23 times the speed of sound, folks).

The shuttle has two solid rocket boosters that help propel the craft into orbit. Once the shuttle reaches an altitude of about 28 miles, the boosters separate from the main unit and fall back to earth. Their descent is slowed by a parachute that deploys at about 15,000 feet. But enough with the numbers - my reason for posting was to link to two videos. These videos are from cameras attached to the top and bottom of one of the rocket boosters. The videos cover everything from liftoff to splashdown, which spans about 12 minutes, but if you're patient enough to watch the whole thing(s) you'll see some pretty interesting sights, such as other objects orbiting the earth, the shuttle's smoke trail from the ground out into space, etc.

Click to watch the videos (Windows Media): Aft camera (looking up) | Forward camera (looking down)

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