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Filming with Discovery Science

January 13, 2009

Last Friday, a crew from the Discovery Science Channel interviewed our Director of Education, Francis French, author of not one but two books about the space race (hence why they asked to interview him), about the Delta II rocket that exploded in 1997. The History Channel over a year ago filmed Francis  about the same explosion for a different type of show, more of a fast-paced clip show with talking heads. Click here to see that video.

To start off the shoot, the Education Department first headed out to Fiesta Island to talk about the science behind rockets by using model rockets. They had us at model rocket! For a good portion of the morning they just filmed Francis talking about how a rocket flies and the different types of propellant used and how that can become a problem.

Finally, after 2 hours of talking, we launched rockets. We used a “D-12-5” sized engine which according to our calculations are about 100,000 times less powerful than the rockets used by the Delta II rocket. The first rocket flew nicely, the second became a little unstable after launch and made a 90 degree turn, about 200 to 300 feet up, making it parallel to the ground. However, it did land safely in the launch zone. For the third launch, they wanted a close up shot of the rocket going off so we tied it to the launch pad, which delayed the rocket launch for a few seconds, just enough time to get the high speed shot, and then rocket took off.

After launching the two more rockets, we left Fiesta Island and headed back to the museum. After lunch, the crew shot a more in depth interview with Francis in our boardroom and in front of our GPS satellite. After they finished filming at the museum they drove out to our Gillespie Field Annex to film a few segments in front of our Atlas rocket to end the day.

We will update you when the show will air but to tide you over here are a few pictures of the morning filming and launching.

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