Night at Cape Canaveral. The countdown is on: … 3, 2, 1 — we have lift off. Each of the more than 100 space shuttle launches was filmed to exactly document the procedure and to detect any possible problems. No easy task and a job that requires the utmost of the cameras.
The cameras have to record several hundred images per second during a night launch, for example. Therefore, the lenses and digital image sensors or film must be particularly light-sensitive. The ignition of the rockets and the burning fuel immediately deliver daylight conditions — and the corresponding reflections. Despite the extreme differences in illumination, the cameras must capture the tiniest details at all times, e.g. plates from the heat shield falling off or the behavior of thin wires. All this from a range of around 300 meters.
A rocket launch generates extreme vibrations that standard lenses would not tolerate. Therefore, the cameras used have to be very robust. Additionally, they must overcome considerable fluctuations in humidity and temperature throughout the day. Once the camera has been set up, it is on its own. For security reasons, no one is allowed near it, even if the start date is repeatedly postponed. Until now, only analog cameras have been able to meet these requirements. However, for a night launch, the Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF in a digital high-speed camera from PCO in Kehlheim, Germany, has demonstrated that it even exceeds the currently obtained levels of quality.
February 9, 2011