Here’s what a rocket launch looks like when viewed from space

I’ve had the great pleasure this year of getting invited by NASA to not just one, but two different rocket launches this year.


Left: SpaceX’s TESS launch on April 18th, 2018 and Orbital ATK’s (now Northrop Grumman) Right: OA-9 ISS resupply mission on May 21st, 2018

If you ever have a chance to go see a rocket launch in person, DO IT! It’s an amazingly surreal and emotional experience. You have months and months of buildup to a single moment that culminates in one of the most impressive displays of humanity’s knowledge and understanding of science, and after just two minutes, it’s completely gone and everybody packs up to leave. As the guide told us 2 minutes after TESS launched at Kennedy Space Center: “Alright, let’s get back on the bus, it’s not coming back.”

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But now, we have video of what rocket launches look like from space.

Last weekend, the private Chinese spaceflight company OneSpace launched their OS-X1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert in northern China.

This was the company’s second rocket launch. The launch itself was suborbital, meaning the rocket didn’t launch into orbit around Earth, however the Jilin-1 video satellite captured it from space.

@dafengcao also posted video of the ground-level view, where the person recording appears to be extremely close to the launch site. I would guess they’re about a mile away from the launch site, perhaps less. For reference, when we were at the NASA press site, we were just over 2 miles from the launch.

In the past, the Chinese National Space Agency (their equivalent to NASA) has been responsible for rocket launches, however in 2014 the government made it favorable for private companies to do their own launches as well. The most advanced company, according to, is LandSpace. But there are other companies competing with them, including LinkSpace, iSpace, and ExPace.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.

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