Jason Major of Lights in the Dark recently shared a classic video clip from NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket launch on Twitter. The video is a stunning example of high-speed photography, featuring incredible footage of the rocket’s Aerojet Rocketdyne F-1 engines captured at 500 frames per second on a 16mm film camera.
This insane 500fps video footage shows the liftoff of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket, powered by its five @AerojetRdyne F-1 engines, captured with a high-speed 16mm film camera on the launch pad at @NASAKennedy on July 16, 1969.
— Jason Major (@JPMajor) June 1, 2022
Major originally wrote about the high-speed Apollo 11 footage way back in 2015 on his website. In that article, Major shared a longer video from Mark Gray of Spacecraft Films. You can check that video out below.
Mark Gray also has a second, even longer video featuring footage from camera E-8, which is the high-speed 16mm camera used to record 500fps footage of the Apollo 11 launch. In the video below, Gray provides excellent narration.
The 8’42” video below shows about 30 seconds of real-time. To protect the camera from the extreme heat and debris, it was housed in a quartz mirror. Although it’s tough to nail precisely what this means, it appears that the camera was protected and pointed toward a mirror, rather than directly at the rocket.
The Saturn V rocket was a ‘Heavy Light Vehicle,’ meaning that it was extremely powerful. At the time, it was the most powerful rocket ever to fly successfully. The Saturn V was used multiple times in the Apollo program during the 1960s and 70s. It was also used to launch the Skylab space station.
Saturn V was 111m (363′) tall, which is about 36 stories, and it weighed 2.8 million kilograms (6.2 million pounds) when fully fueled for liftoff. The rocket generated a staggering 34.5 million newtons (7.6 million pounds) of thrust at launch, which is more power than 85 Hoover Dams. If your car gets 48km (30 mi) to the gallon, you could drive around the Earth 800 times with Saturn V’s fuel for just one of its lunar landing missions.
Click here to read more about the incredible and iconic Saturn V rocket.