Decades ago, a rocket launch was an incredibly special event, but these days, companies and space agencies around the world are sending spacecraft into the skies on such a regular basis that it can seem almost mundane. A new video of a routine resupply launch to the International Space Station brings some of the magic back by showing what the ISS crew saw as the space station passed over the rocket as it sped into space.
The video, which was posted by the European Space Agency, shows the Progress MS-10 cargo ship taking off from Earth and speeding through the atmosphere to reach orbit.
The clip is quite stunning, showing the spacecraft rising from the Earth like a bullet moving in slow motion. As it passes through the atmosphere, you can see the cone-shaped haze it creates in its wake just before separation of the rocket stage from the core. The core then fires up, pushing the spacecraft at high speed towards the space station.
It might seem counterproductive, but this is the way these missions typically go. The spacecraft enters orbit after the ISS has already passed by, and it has to essentially catch up to the speeding space station in order to dock with it. It’s a process that typically takes a couple of days, but it works well.
As ESA notes in the video’s description, the video is roughly 15 minutes worth of real-time photos condensed into a video lasting just over a minute. The cargo ship, which can be seen at the end of the video as a pale dot chasing down the ISS, carried food, oxygen, water, and other supplies to the current three-person crew.