I think all onboard cameras I ever watched were pointing down, towards the engine, during the ascent of the rocket. Do you know of any rocket that had a camera pointing to the side (towards the horizon, initially) when it launched? I'd like to see footage from a rocket camera showing the horizon, the camera should be optimally at a position from where you can see the horizon even after the rocket's roll (rockets are rolling immediately after liftoff from KSC). The horizon would then be seen "vertically" on the screen when the rocket levels more out. If you could provide a link to such possible video, I'd appreciate it much.

Are there any technical reasons why onboard cameras don't point to the side but usually down?

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    $\begingroup$ Some shuttle flights had a dashcam...so pointing up, not down. But, not to the side. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2021 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I found this video: youtube.com/watch?v=zxE3KBRorZI&ab_channel=NASA (views from the one pointing down and eventually the one pointing up on the other booster) Unfortunately, no altitude indicator either. $\endgroup$
    – user43968
    Sep 17, 2021 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ The dashcam video is linked here: space.stackexchange.com/a/44074/6944 the questioner there was also looking for an "outward" view. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2021 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Thank you. One time the speaker mentions an altitude of 24 miles (38.6 km). The sky is pitch black already. It's a pity Falcon 9 rockets don't have such cam (or as yet) because SpaceX shows altitude during launch. $\endgroup$
    – user43968
    Sep 17, 2021 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ different question but contains some additional answers that may overlap here somewhat: Did anyone ever launch a rocket, filmed by another rocket in mid air? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 17, 2021 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Most cameras on a rocket launch are there for a sound engineering reason.
They look down at the engines of the rocket, or up to the second stage, or out to the solar panels, or down inside the propellant tanks. The reason they look at these things is to evaluate performance, observe if anything goes wrong, and to serve as a tool in analyzing what went wrong in the event of a mishap.
For example, this nice video from a Shuttle SRB looking up at the shuttle body during separation:

However, in many the years of rocketry the horizon has proven to be exceptionally predictable. Not once has it suffered burn-through or break-up, and it does not yield a bit even to the most strenuous Max-q forces. Thus the engineers have little interest in a camera that shows nothing but horizon. They are quite content with the peripheral view of the horizon from the down or up-facing cameras.

One might want a side-view for PR purposes, but think about it. What will such a view show? A noise, some vibration, and a rapid elevator ride. Very similar to the view out of an airplane's window, but minus the context. We get the same view, but with much more, from the ground-facing cameras. Now a video from inside looking out, that has some PR potential, because it provides the context to give the view some real meaning. Like this view on the New Shepard launch.

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    $\begingroup$ The thing is, once the rocket/shuttle levels out enough for the camera to see the horizon, they are already about 30 mi (48 km) high from where on the view essentially doesn't change anymore (planet Earth versus the black space). If a camera pointed to the horizon from the beginning, we could see the rocket ascending through multiple kinds of clouds, the sky changing colors and the horizon beginning to curve. The New Shepard and SRB videos show only space view as well, but filming the ascent through the troposphere and lower stratosphere would be awesome too. $\endgroup$
    – user43968
    Sep 17, 2021 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Videos like this one, but unfortunately there's no altitude indicator: youtube.com/watch?v=JNPpdHYD8jo&ab_channel=BlueOrigin Blue Origin and SpaceX show the rocket's altitude during their capsule/rocket launches. $\endgroup$
    – user43968
    Sep 17, 2021 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni yes, i did, retracted, sorry. But i did link a very nice video from within the BO capsule looking out. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2021 at 13:33

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