Atlantis launch in 3D

By Phil Plait | July 20, 2011 12:15 pm

Tomorrow morning, July 21, at 5:56 a.m. EDT (09:56 GMT), the Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis is scheduled to set wheels down on Earth one last time. When it launched, though, pictures were taken as the rocket rolled that allowed Nathaniel Burton-Bradford to create a 3D red/cyan anaglyph:

[Click to enlaunchenate.]

I posted another 3D image he made of Atlantis, too, and he has one of the ISS he just made as well. If you don’t have red/cyan glasses, you can search for ’em online. They’re pretty cheap, and I do sometimes link to pictures like this… like in Related Posts below. It’s totally worth a buck, just for that moment of "wow".

Credit: NASA, Nathanial Burton Bradford

Related posts:

3D Apollo
The lumpy, 3D Earth
Phobos is, like, totally groovy
3D House of Comet Nucleus

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures

Comments (16)

  1. I like some of these 3-D shots you link to, good BA, but this one doesn’t do it for me. (You’re heartbroken, I’m sure.)

    Trouble with it is, the rotation of the spacecraft was too great in the interval between the frames that Burton-Bradford used to make this composite. The resulting fake parallax is too great, which has the affect of shrinking the shuttle down to the size of a small toy held up to your nose. In reality, the tail wouldn’t pop out at you that much.

  2. OH YEAH! This is cool! I don’t even care that the tail pops that much. It’s awesome.

    Made me give it a shot too:

  3. Wayne on the Plains

    I don’t know if it’s just this monitor or what, but this is the BEST 3D of this type I’ve ever seen. Great job Nathaniel!

  4. KAE

    That was very cool and very clever (anyone try this with an Apollo launch?) , although I have to admit I thought it was going to be a 3D video of the launch.
    I figured someone had set up two HD video cameras some distance apart and was able to sync them and track the shuttle.
    Oh well, maybe next time…

  5. Keith Bowden

    @KAE – lol! ūüėÄ

  6. Bigfoot


    I’m always most amazed at the anaglyph illusion when you move your head side to side while viewing them . In this case, the tail appears to rock and the rockets appear to “slide” behind the shuttle as if you were flying by in an aircraft and getting a dynamically changing perspective, yet we know no such movement is actually happening. It’s especially apparent where the outer edge of the booster intercepts the leading edge of the wing — look at that spot and slide your head from side to side to “change your perspective”. The booster appears to slide closer and farther from the wingtip! Our minds are amazing things.

  7. OOH! I got really excited when I saw this because I actually have the red/blue glasses sitting right on my desk for once! Niiiiiice! The other ones are sweet too. I like the ISS the best, with the AMS right in the foreground. America’s last major science-triumph with the shuttle. To anyone who says “all we’ve done is orbit”, I say AMS. Booyah.

  8. I left my red/blue glasses at home (using them at work might look a little odd) I’ll have to wait until evening to see it! :)

  9. Teshi

    Touchdown. I’ll admit, I shed a tear.

    The Shuttle is immensley cool. It looks like the future, even now at 30 years old at its retirement. I’m really sad I never got to see it launch or land in person and now I never will. At least I got to watch the landing remotely.

    It’s sort of unbelievable that the US now no longer has a way of getting into space. I grew up taking it for granted, clearly.

    Goodbye, Shuttle. You were awesome.

  10. vince charles

    Teshi- My payload had a way of getting into space just fine, a few months ago. My next payloads have ways to get into space this fall, and then another again a few years from now. All are far, FAR cheaper, more predictable, have better ground support, with fewer restrictions and limitations, and are ultimately far more desirable. It’s not even possible for the Shuttle to reach one of their orbits.

    If I shed a tear, I’ll dab it with the many thousands or possibly even millions our projects will save. Oh, right… I shed NOT A SINGLE TEAR. “It’s sort of unbelievable” because you shouldn’t believe it, of any sort.

  11. JB of Brisbane

    Vale the Shuttle – roll on Fireball XL5.

  12. The last of the orbiters, Atlantis is down. Safe and sound and successful. :-)

    Click on my name for link to latest news – or the latest I’ve seen online anyhow.

    Vale, farewell, and thanks to the Space Shuttle and all who flew aboard her and all who helped design and watch over her on all her flights of superluminence. Thankyou. I’ll miss you.

    So ends one of the wonders of our modern world. The Space Shuttle was a marvellous reuseable (mostly so) spaceplane.

    135 shuttle flights – 133 successful and safe and rapturous landings. :-)

    That it has been retired was inevitable.

    That nothing has replaced it already, that the United States of America is left hitching rides with the Russians was not. That fact is something I find both tragic and pathetic. :-(

    This last one so bittersweet. So many memories, so much science acccomplished, so much soaring joy provided.

    Now all finished – and what next?

  13. Obama may not have killed the Space Shuttle programme – but it has passed away unreplaced by anything better, more capable and more marvellous on his watch. :-(

    I remember 2008 and the US Presidential race of that year between “Planetariums are the same as Overhead Projectors” John McCain and “Star Trek fan” Barack Obama.

    What will we remember of what Obama hands over NASA~wise to his successor now?

    No Space Shuttle fleet.

    No Constellation program.

    No James Webb Space Telescope it would seem right now.

    I am so disappointed. :-(

    July 21st Australian time, 1969 Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the Lunar regolith sticking a US flag into another whole world of dry seas and craters that they travelled to “for all mankind” ahead of the Soviet Empire.

    Now we are forty-two years away from that temporal point in spacetime after we had succeeeded then so very superbly.

    Apollo is ancient history.

    That supersonic aircraft the Concorde is years gone and no more – nor replaced with suchlike planes.

    Now the Space Shuttle the second most remarkable spacecraft humans have ever build and flown behind only that which took us to the Moon has terminated its glorious career. Also with nothing of its like extistent or in sight.

    Are we going backwards or what?

  14. Oops. I messed this one up. See next thread. Sorry. Mea culpa.
    BA if you wish to delete this comment, please do.

  15. marc

    press del to deplaitinate.

  16. vince charles

    “That supersonic aircraft the Concorde is years gone and no more ‚Äď nor replaced with suchlike planes.

    “Now the Space Shuttle the second most remarkable spacecraft humans have ever build and flown”


    I cannot believe you wield the COMPLETE AEROSPACE IGNORANCE to defend _BOTH_ the Concorde and Shuttle on EXACTLY THE SAME GROUNDS.

    Since you clearly do not work in aerospace history, let alone design, please gain even a basic familiarity with airline operations before you display Concorde gushing again. Here, let me give you a tip: the Concorde and 747 both had their testing and first flights at the same time. Which one is still flying profitably today, and which one has NEVER turned an operating profit, EVER???

    When you figure that one out, go look at launch operations before you display Shuttle gushing again. Here, let me give you a tip: the Shuttle and Ariane both had their testing and first flights at about the same time. Which one dominates the launch market to this day, and which one was abandoned by BOTH commercial satellite operators, THEN the Air Force within a few years? And THEN by NASA itself, when Administrator Goldin finally let probes fly on cheap rockets, unleashing a new wave of solar-system exploration?


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