This is a video from a camera on one of the Space Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters. The cool part is that it has sound!! I know I’m never going to fly into space so I live vicariously through videos like this. If you’re impatient the video gets good at 1:50 when the seperation happens.
The timer in the upper left is launch time (T+). Notice how the other SRB doesn’t stray too far from the camera and can be seen against the earth. Plus you can see the smoke trailing from the falling boosters and in the far distance the smoke column cause by the initial shuttle launch.
The cool part with sound is you can hear the change in noise as the air thins, plus the rattle of debris impacting on the booster casing, the ‘chutes deployment and inflation, and finally the impact into the water.
The SRB’s are basically giant bottle rockets; once they’re lit the only way to shut them off is to let them burn out or self destruction (which only was used once after the Challenger accident).
The SRBs only burn for about 2 minutes then jettison from the shuttle at approx 27 miles up. Their momentum is so great that they continue up to about 41 miles to the peak of their arc before falling back to the earth.
A small drogue chute orients the SRBs in an upright position and about a mile up the three main chutes open so the 91 ton empty cylinder won’t be damaged on impact. I never knew until now but the chutes are held partially closed (or “reefed”) until a set speed when they can be fully opened; otherwise the sudden full inflation could shred the chute or snap the cables holding it.
The empty booster is only open at the bottom so landing tail first seals air inside the rocket cylinder causing it to float upright sticking about 30ft out of the water.
Roughly 6 minutes and 130 miles off the coast of Florida the boosters end their short trip to the edge of space. In the past they would be recovered and be used 4 or 5 more times but with the close of the shuttle program they’re just collected for scrap now.