This SpaceX Nighttime Rocket Launch and Landing Video Is Simply Spectacular

A close up of a Falcon 9 rocket, captured in high resolution by the spaceflight company SpaceX.
A close up of a Falcon 9 rocket, captured in high resolution by the spaceflight company SpaceX. (Image credit: SpaceX)

An amazing new video from the private company SpaceX captures incredibly detailed views of fired-up rocket engines as they blast into space and drop back down to Earth for a landing.

The new video shows high-speed footage of some of SpaceX's nighttime Falcon 9 rocket launches, and makes it possible for viewers to see details that are typically washed out in low-res footage. For example, while the column of fire spewed by a rocket engine typically appears as a bright white blur, the high-res video shows some of the texture and structure inside that fiery pillar.

The shots in the video are taken from multiple vantage points, including a very close view of a Falcon 9 as it leaves the launch pad, and a wide view of the rocket's first stage as it separates from the payload and heads back down to Earth for a landing.

The upper and lower stage of a Falcon 9 rocket separate in the night sky, as seen in high resolution footage captured by SpaceX. (Image credit: SpaceX)

In a video description, SpaceX representatives said the footage includes shots from four of its rocket launches. The missions that appear in the video (in order of appearance) are: the JCSAT-14 satellite launch from May 2016; the CRS-9 mission launch, stage separation, engine plume interaction and re-entry burn from July 2016; the Orbcomm landing burn from December 2015; and the July 2016 CRS-9 landing burn. (CRS-9 was a resupply mission SpaceX flew to the International Space Station for NASA, using the Falcon 9 and the company's robotic Dragon cargo capsule.)

SpaceX is currently delivering commercial and government payloads to space using the Falcon 9, and the company is aiming to make the rocket's first stage fully reusable. (Most rocket designs must discard the first stage after one use.)

SpaceX has successfully landed five Falcon 9 boosters, but it has not yet reused any of those that have been recovered. The historic first re-flight of a used Falcon 9 first stage could come as early as this fall, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter