For those of you who were watching the Blue Origin rocket flight today, you might have noticed some great video taken from the air. If you thought there were drones involved… you were right!
Today was a big day for Blue Origin. The company launched a rocket for its New Shepard NS-14 mission. The reuseable spacecraft is named for Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space. This was an unmanned test flight, though there was a mannequin in the cockpit. And while the rocket itself was the star, a couple of drones played supporting roles in capturing the flight. Both were made by DJI, and we were alerted to their role by a Tweet.
It came from Brendan Schulman, the company’s vice president of policy and legal affairs.
DJI drones in the air for rocket launch
I’ve noted what I assume to be drone footage during some recent SpaceX launches. But I’ve never known what drones were being used. In this case, it appears that Brendan Schulman had an inside track:
As Brendan’s tweet pointed out, there were three DJI products in the air for this event: An Inspire 2, M300, and a Mavic Air 2. My guess is that the Mavic Air 2 took that shot looking down on the launchpad (pictured above), as presumably you’d want the closest drone to the rocket’s path to be the lightest.
Of course, you wouldn’t want a helicopter or another manned vehicle anywhere near this, so a drone makes perfect sense.
And wow… what a shot. By the way, our sister site Space Explored covered today’s launch in detail. You’ll find that story here.
A brief aside
Many years ago, I had the good fortune of covering the Ansari X Prize for the Toronto Star. The competition was among teams trying to make a manned, suborbital flight using a spacecraft that could be reused in short order. I visited Mojave, California, to see the leading contender – Mojave Aerospace Ventures – make its winning flights to earn the $10 million prize.
It was amazing, and the catalyst for Virgin Galactic and others in the space tourism sector. Blue Origin was founded in 2000, and intends to offer space tourism flights as well as delivering paylods to low-earth orbit. Here’s a look at a typical mission trajectory, from the Blue Origin website.
If you’d like to become an astronaut, sign up here.