Space Videos; We’re not in Kansas Anymore

The U.S. and Russia started their competition to be the first country to land on the moon in 1958 with the formation of NASA after the Russians successfully sent the Sputnik I satellite into space on October 4, 1957.  Ever seen space exploration became a reality, we’ve been treated to incredible space videos as grainy as they may have been in the beginning. After all, like any other tourist, the first priority in going to a new frontier is to take pictures. In 1968, Americans were able to amazingly watch on Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 astronauts recite the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. Apollo 8 was the second manned space mission of NASA’s Apollo program which ultimately beat the Russians to the moon. On July 21, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to actually step foot on the moon. This historic moment is one of the most amazing space videos celebrating humanity’s achievements in space exploration and was watched by millions of Americans. A huge audience also watched in 1970 as Apollo 13, the third manned trip to the moon was successfully aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days into the mission with no loss of life. “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” has now become one of the most famous lines in U.S. history.



In recent times as video technology and modern space travel has evolved, the images have become sharper and the trips to space have gone farther although not necessarily traveled by humans. We’ve all been privy to watching the numerous Space Shuttle blast-offs and its various missions to the International Space Station. We were also able to witness the tragic explosions of Challenger on January 28, 1986 and Columbia on February 1, 2003.  In October 2011, Americans collectively cheered the Space Shuttle Endeavor as it flew around the country to its parade down the streets of Los Angeles en route to its final resting ground at the California Science Center. After 30 years of service, the Space Shuttle Program had finally ended. Because of leaps and bounds in video technology, the world can now share in the experience of space travel and exploration through amazing space videos that can now be easily witnessed worldwide. The retired shuttle took it’s last flight from Florida to Dulles Airport. This is some amazing footage of it flying around Washington DC.




In addition to NASA, private companies and their CEOs like Richard Branson and Virgin, Elon Musk and SpaceX are interested and investing in space flight. Even sports drink companies like Red Bull who sponsor extreme sports activities have gotten in the space game, at least in the space diving game. Space diving is when a person jumps from either an airplane or spacecraft from outer space, free falls to the earth’s atmosphere then parachutes to land. On October 12, 2014, in a project called Red Bull Stratos, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner did a space dive over New Mexico from a helium balloon capsule hovering almost 24 miles (127,851 feet) above sea level. Wearing a pressure suit, Baumgartner’s jump lasted almost ten minutes from the time he left the capsule to landing on the ground. He broke the sound barrier upon descent reaching speeds up to 843.6 mph. In an amazing space video seen worldwide, Baumgartner successfully landed what had gone down in history as one of the most incredible daredevil acts attempted by man.



Mars is 33.9 million miles from earth so for humans, it’s a pretty long trip especially if one is not flying first class. So instead, NASA sent a robotic rover car called Curiosity to Mars from Curiosity was aboard the MSL spacecraft and launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011 but didn’t arrive on Mars until August 6, 2012 after a 350,000,000mile trip. Curiosity’s descent onto Mars is called “The 7 Minutes of Terror,” due to Curiosity’s risky landing in which NASA team members didn’t know whether the rover would make it after the almost year long journey. Curiosity hurtled into Mar’s atmosphere at 13,000 miles per hour and deployed a huge supersonic parachute to help it slow down to around 200 mph. It had to fire rockets to help slow its descent to 2 mph before finally touching down on the Red Planet. NASA scientists held their breath until after a rocket-powered sky crane lowered Curiosity onto the ground using cables. The crane then flew off and intentionally crash-landed safely away from the rover.

Here’s mission control’s reaction to those 7 minutes of terror: 

Thus began Curiosity’s two-year mission to send information back to NASA on Mar’s climate and geology including studies on whether humans could inhabit the planet. Curiosity’s mission was indefinitely extended in December 2012.




Even though the Space Shuttle program has been retired and NASA’s budget has been reduced, the U.S. is still investing in space exploration. On May 24, 2011, NASA made an announcement about The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), a spaceship built to carry a four astronaut crew for the purpose of orbiting the earth to learn more about asteroids, Mars and delivering supplies to the International Space Station. The MPCV’s first unmanned test flight launched on top of a Delta IV Heavy rocket on December 5, 2014. The 4 hours and 24 minutes flight successfully landed on its target in the Pacific Ocean. The MPVC’s first earliest mission with astronauts is scheduled for 2021.




The U.S. and Russia are not the only countries who have gone where no man has gone before. On September 25, 2008, the Chinese sent 3 astronauts into space on China’s third manned mission of their space program. Called Shenzhou 7, this mission marked the first time a Chinese astronaut conducted an Extravehicular activity (EVA), an activity by an astronaut outside a spacecraft or in other words, a space walk. On September 27, 2008 commander Zhai Zhigang exited the spacecraft wearing a Chinese-developed space suit designed for spacewalks of up to seven hours. Zhigang’s walk only took 20 minutes but was historic for his country. He made his way around the orbital module, took some experiment samples and waved the Chinese flag. His co-pilot, astronaut, Liu Boming remained in the orbital module’s airlock to provide back up assistance. He later took a short space walk to hand Zhai the flag. A third astronaut, Jing Haipeng stayed in module to monitor the spacecraft.  Two cameras filmed the space walk which as broadcasted live in China. Of course as with the American space missions, there are those out there who claim this space walk was a complete fake. It’s easy to see how people would make this claim since the video does look like it was filmed on a Hollywood set or maybe the cameras are now just that good. See for yourself:


Proving that if you got money, you can take a trip anywhere, video game millionaire, Richard Garriott is the first American space tourist. His father is Owen K. Garriott, an astronaut who flew with the Space Shuttle and Skylab 3. After paying a reported $30 million dollars, on October 12, 2008, Garriott flew to the International Space Station aboard the Russian spacecraft, Soyuz TMA-13 which launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Since the Space Shuttle program ended, all human space travel to the International Space Station have been in Soyuz spaceships. Garriott returned to Earth 12 days later and spent a year training in Russia before taking his space trip. Who said playing video games couldn’t get you anywhere?


Proving you don’t actually have to be an astronaut to create a great space video. Filmmaker Fede Castro created a fascinating time-lapse video of Earth as seen from space by using footage from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. In a four minute short film, Castro takes us on a trip around the world as viewed from space.


If you want something longer, there’s nothing like National Geographic and their 2 hour HD movie of the Earth as seen from space.


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And for those of us who don’t have 30 million dollars but would like to know how it feels to launch into space, luckily we have this video that shows a shuttle launch from inside the Space Shuttle orbiter.  The orbiter was the reusable part of the Space Shuttle and was capable of carrying astronauts into orbit and then re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere to land as a glider. Six orbiters were built for the program with Columbia being the first space-worthy aircraft which made its inaugural flight in 1981. Challenger came next in 1983 but was destroyed in an accident in 1986.  Discovery first flew in 1984 and Atlantis followed 1985 respectively.  Endeavour was built to replace Challenger and made it’s maiden voyage in 1992.   After Columbia was destroyed during re-entry in 2003, there were only 3 left. On March 9, 2011, Discovery flew its final flight and Endeavour followed with its last flight on June 1, 2011. The last  Shuttle flight was made by Atlantis on July 21, 2011.