It’s amazing what a little competition will do. After the following SpaceX gets online for its onboard video, United Launch Alliance (ULA) has started providing onboard launch video too with the Atlas V AEHF-5. It’s not quite up to SpaceX standards, but better than nothing (the video clears up after about a minute):
Of course we all know the most spectacular part is the landing, but we’ll have to wait a while before ULA catches up with that.
The ESA as usual lag far behind. Their recent launch failure with an Vega showed just how terrible their launch video is. Instead of actual footage we got an amateurish animation showing everything was just fine. A graph in the upper right clearly shows the rocket off from its nominal track, yet the commentator blithely prattles on. In reality the vehicle had disintegrated. And for laughs turn on the English subtitles:
Meanwhile the Chinese are experimenting with reusable rockets and demonstrated a Grasshopper-like ‘hop’ recently:
It’s a long way from that to landing a medium-lift orbital-class booster.
SpaceX are now testing their next-gen rocket – which keeps changing name. Personally I liked the original “Mars Colonial Transporter”, or even the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket or Big F***ing Rocket), but Starship is OK. This test was really just a test of a single Raptor engine and a stainless steel fuel tank called “Starhopper”, but looked good nonetheless. I loved the 1950s vibe from the polished metal and sleek fins: