By 2018, NASA’s Space Launch System, which is replacing the Space Shuttle program, might have finally reached space, if things remain on schedule. Until then, there’s a lot of work to be done, including testing the massive rockets that will power the system’s capsule into the air.
And recently, part of that work was captured by a specially made camera in the video seen above, which shows footage of the rocket firing. The surprisingly precise footage is a rare example of what a rocket blast actually looks like.
Most of the time, in film, television, and in real life, rocket blasts appear like this:
That’s because the flames are too bright for the camera, overexposing the image and rendering the flames as white. But in the images that NASA captured, you can see the flame in all of its colorful glory, with shades of purple and blue streaming out.
NASA invented a whole new type of camera to make this happen. They call it the High Dynamic Range Stereo X project, and they use it to capture multiple exposures of the blast, combining them into one, evenly-lit image: what you see in the video above.
Capturing the image wasn’t a complete success, though, according to NASA. After a few minutes of recording, the camera’s power was mysteriously cut off. The reason? The rocket’s blast, which shook the ground enough to unplug the cord.