Columbia Astronauts Video--I Call "no Way"

So, I saw a video on the NBC Nightly News taken by one of the astronauts, starting about 25 minutes before the shuttle exploded. It showed them all laughing and chatting and pointing the camera at each other. Tom Brokaw said the video was, amazingly, found in the wreckage and, so far in the tape, was in perfect shape. Then he said, “NASA says the video cuts off five minutes before the shuttle exploded, that the remainder of the tape was damaged.”

Now. I’m no conspiracy theorist–but how could the first 20 minutes of the tape be in perfect condition and the last five minutes destroyed? I strongly suspect NASA just doesn’t want us to see the crew panicking and blowing up . . .

Well…the last five minutes would be on the outside of the spool. So it would be the first damaged.

Well, I don’t want to see them blowing up, so if NASA would rather I not, that’s fine with me. If they said, “The last part of this tape is SERIOUSLY disturbing, you don’t want to see it, trust us on that,” then EVERYBODY would want to see it. You know what I mean.

Agree. I find it hard to comprehend that 20 minutes of the tape is fine and 5 minutes is missing altogether. On the other hand, I figured that the astronauts remains would have been vaporised and was shocked when they started recovering pieces of them so what the hell would I know? Space shuttle destruction is not my field of expertise.

Just a guess, but if the tape had not been rewound, then the last four minutes would be spooled on the outside and be more exposed to damage than the earlier part of the tape.

I’m sure NASA has the rest of the tape and they just decided not to show it out of good taste and to be respectful to the astronut families. I just don’t know how the tape survived falling thousands of feet after suffering the inferno of re-entry.
Plus if there is a rest of the tape showing the snuff moment I’m sure it was quick with the cockpit being filled with plasma and everyone turning to a crisp in seconds.
I’d want to see the whole story just like Budd Dwyer.

If so, they may be saving the families additional pain - we’ll only know later if and when the rest of the tape shows up in the seedier media outlets. If that is the case, I’d rather they not mention it at all - either tell the whole truth about a story or don’t report it at all.

Of course, that’s like demanding Hollywood to either make good movies or none at all. Both are businesses, after all.

When kids are being trained as journalists, they have the cliche drilled into them: “If you mother says she loves you, find a corroborating source before you believe it.”

Now I’m afraid we have to have it drilled into us “If the news tells you that your mother loves you…”

You’d think the white hot heat from the re-entry would have destroyed everything, including the tape. I find it hard to belive that something as fragile as a tape could survive burning up in the earth’s atmosphere.

Well, I don’t know anything about tapes, or what kind of tape this was. Are they still on “spools?”


raisinbread: What’s there to see about Budd Dwyer? He got caught taking kick backs and shot himself in front of the press, with the cameras rolling. It’s there for all to see, in horrible, glorious technicolor.

This may be MPSIMS, but let’s be precise. According to’s story, the tape starts 25 minutes before destruction and ends 13 minutes later. Presuming that filming continued, about half the recorded portion of the tape was destroyed. Since the last filmed footage would, necessarily, be on the outside of that side of the tape cassette, I’m not really surprised. I’m more surprised that anything recoverable survived at all.

samarm, obviously (ask those who’ve been arrested) everything didn’t burn up. And presumably the tape was still in the camera, which would have offered some protection, at least for a bit.

Eve, yes videotapes are wound on spools. I’d imagine the tape was run-of-the-mill 8 mm videotape, but I don’t know that.

Is this video online somewhere? I haven’t seen it.

I, too, am amazed by a video tape (assuming that’s what it was) surviving a 18,000 kmh violent breakup, and 64 km fall to earth.

Then again, what would you see at the moment of breakup? It would all be so damn quick. Maybe a couple of worried faces as they realised something was wrong on the left wing, but really: the breakup would be a swift stop of the footage.

If the tape was protected from the plasma by something, possibly inside the camera or a case, then lost the protection at a speed less than what would develop plasma, it could survive the fall, especially if it hit trees or something in the last second to dramatically slow it’s fall.

What we have seen could be a small part of the tape and the rest could have been destroyed. But I don’t know the length of tapes used, so I could be wrong.

When I saw the tape on the Nightly News, the end looked more like someone shut off the camera, which is probable since the astronauts had to strap in and get ready for landing. They can’t fool around with a camera at that point. It didn’t like the end had burned up or had been edited out.

It didn’t look like…

Video cassettes still have spools, they’re just inside the case.

Why does NASA use videotape? I always thought that the footage from inside the shuttle was beamed down in real-time, like a super webcam. They must know that if anything happened, like it unfortunately did, that the evidence on videotape would probably not be salvageable. The broadcasts shown on TV while the astonauts are still in space are obviously not videotape, they are some sort of relayed broadcast, so it confuses me why they would use something so iffy like videotape to record the most crucial moments during re-entry.
Or maybe they do have that sort of footage, and just haven’t released it yet?

You’re not going to get quality transmissions as the Shuttle goes through the plasma. It’s one thing to have radio communications (except for plasmas interference), but quite another to receive a continuous quality video signal, especially upon reentry.

NASA does not plan for major accidents when it comes to everyday things. The astronauts use 35mm SLRs, Hasselblad, IMAX, and digital cameras on flights. They use videotape cameras, too. It is assumed Shuttle flights will end as planned the information utilized. That the videotape survived at all is a bonus. Sorry but the scenes shown on the news are taken from handheld video cameras, not directly beamed to Earth.

Besides, videotape is high-quality, low cost technology. NASA is into safe but sure (the tragedy notwithstanding) technology and redundancy. Even with the advances in technology, especially computers, I’m betting they are still using 486-based computers on board. The military still uses 386 and 486 chips in their systems because reliability and safety count much more than bleeding edge bells and whistles.

I’ll bet a nickel that this is the true story.

Well, the footage I saw on Fox News at 1pm EST showed the end of the tape sequence… the picture got blocky, cleared, got blocky again and cleared up again. It almost looked to me like it was a digital camera. I could be wrong, of course.

Once they started recovering remains, I stopped being surprised. If the human body can still have parts large enough to require a body bag and ‘identification’ after the catastrophe, I’m not at all surprised that some footage, be it on a datastick or actual tape, survived.