Spectacular rocketcam footage of Ariane 5 launch

Engineers mounted four cameras aboard the Ariane 5 rocket launching the European Space Agency's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle on Wednesday, recording remarkable views of the launcher's fiery ascent into orbit.

The footage shows the 17-story launcher rocketing away from Kourou, French Guiana, speeding through cloud layers and jettisoning its twin solid rocket boosters a little over 2 minutes into the flight.

Then you can follow the Ariane 5's trek downrange over the Atlantic Ocean and see separation of the rocket's cryogenic core stage. Finally, the video shows deployment of the 22-ton ATV cargo craft about an hour after liftoff.

The cameras were part of the STEREX experiment jointly funded by DLR - the German space agency - and ESA. The STEREX cameras recorded 3D video on-board the Ariane 5, but this clip shows the video presented in a two-dimensional format. The 3D version will be released by DLR in a few days.

"These images give us a new perspective on the dynamic processes taking place during the separation of the ATV from the Ariane, which will help us to better understand and analyse these processes," said Thomas Ruwwe, STEREX project manager at DLR.

The rocket stored the video on-board before downlinking the data to a DLR ground station in Weilheim, Germany.

The cameras aboard Wednesday's launch were the first Ariane 5 "rocketcams" to fly since 2006, according to a statement by DLR. The system was built by Kayser-Threde GmbH of Munich.

Liftoff occurred at 2152:18 GMT (5:52:18 p.m. EDT; 6:52:18 p.m. local time).

See our Mission Status Center for the latest news on the launch.

Video credit: ESA/DLR-BMWi 2013

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