I have a small query here on the three different movements that I perceived after looking at videos during take off of Challenger (1986), Columbia (2003) and Atlantis (2010).

  1. Challenger (1986): Immediately after lift off, the shuttle moves sideways to the left. There is no rotation (instantaneous direction being the axis) seen although it may not have been captured in this video.

  2. Columbia (2003): Immediatly after lift off, it goes straight, rotates by 90 degrees (clockwise from bottom), gets fixed in that position, and goes up.

  3. Atlantis (2010): i). First of all, after 1 was heard, the lift off occured some 23 seconds later. Until the 22nd second, there was lot of white smoke unlike in other two cases. Why was there a delay of 23 seconds? ii). Secondly, in this case, the shuttle rotates continuously about its axis as it goes up. It becomes stable only after some time.

My question is why the movement is different (if not vastly) or is it only a camera effect?


The motion is the same in all three videos.

The STS launches vertically, but due to it's unique engine arrangement, it has a small lateral motion. This is clearly seen in the first two videos, using the lightning rod as a reference (the white tube at the top of the launch tower).

Once the STS stack is above the tower, it starts to roll around the vertical axis, as the roll and pitch program begins. In the first video the camera cuts away just as this roll starts.

The third video has lots an lots of different camera angles cut together, showing the launch over and over and over again, and the countdown doesn't appear to be in sync with any of them.


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