The astronauts on the International Space Station managed to not only photograph of the Cygnus spacecraft being tossed free of the station and burning up during destructive reentry, but also to take a timelapse of its fiery demise.
The music is oddly jaunty for a video titled “Orbital Cremation,” but it is mesmerizing nonetheless.
The spacecraft starts as glowing spark against the tumultuous clouds, chasing ahead of the space station in an even faster orbit. Finally, just as it reaches the edge of visibility, the pinprick stretches into a glowing streak of fire. The cremation only lasts a few seconds, fading out as a few wayward fragments burn out in individual blazes of glory.
It’s going to take a long time for me to get over being able to look over the astronaut’s shoulders in glorious high-definition every day.
Not every fiery pyre for a spacecraft is intentional. SpaceX had a test go explosively awry on Friday.