This Is What 44,000,000 Horsepower Looks Like

NASA has released this beautiful, crystal-clear video of Discovery's launch. It was taken from an HD camera mounted on the left solid rocket booster, during liftoff of the shuttle for mission STS-133.

Take a close look. There have been other booster videos before, but not only this one is especially impressive, it's also the last time you are going to see Discovery rising up to the stars.

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The space shuttle uses two solid fuel boosters, giant fireworks that produce 2,800,000 pounds of force each. At liftoff, each produces 12,500,000 newtons and continue to burn for 124 seconds. The spacecraft's own engines produce a combined 12,000 pounds of force (54.4 kN), and accelerate and decelerate as the shuttle goes through different launch phases, to reduce shock.

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DISCUSSION

Three things surprised me about this video. First, that the boosters continue to burn after the detach. Secondly, that they don't burn up/disintegrate, or explode on re-entry. Do they not carry the shuttle high enough that they have to survive re-entry? Are they built more sturdily than the shuttle? Do they just heat up hotter than would be acceptable to keep meatbags alive? Finally, they must have some kind of chutes that open up at the tip because splashdown wasn't as violent as I would've imagined. It was, however, the most awesome part of the video.