We’re so used to seeing perfectly-rendered CGI depictions of outer space in movies and video games that seeing the real thing can sometimes feel underwhelming. This is not one of those times.
On Thursday, the European Space Agency (ESA) published a video taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Alexander Gerst. The video shows time-lapse footage of the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft that launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 16. The footage is almost unbelievable as it shows the spacecraft, on a resupply mission to the ISS, arcing into orbit. The camera pans slowly and follows the unmanned Russian craft, revealing Earth’s curvature in epic scale.
“This is real,” Gerst wrote in a tweet with the video. “How a spaceship leaves our planet, seen from ISS.”
Besides being incredible footage, the video has special significance since it depicts the first ISS-bound launch of a Russian Soyuz-FG rocket after a crewed mission to the ISS last month on the same rocket variant had to make an emergency landing minutes after launch. The cause of the aborted mission was a malfunctioning sensor, and miraculously nobody was hurt.
The November 16 mission was unmanned, but Soyuz rockets will be flying astronauts to the ISS again by Christmas, according to NASA chief Jim Bridenstine.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the craft was arcing out of orbit, when it is in fact staying in orbit.