shuttle tape survival

How could that shuttle videotape survive the ensuing inferno of the shuttle breakup and a drop of 16000+ feet and still be broadcast quality? Is NASA using videotape and video equipment of superior quality compared to what’s available in the consumer market? Was it better shielded? Is protecting videotape from such destructive elements relatively easy?

I was amazed when they said it was partially destroyed and half of the videotape was gone.

It would be more believable to me if the whole tape survived in tact, considering when something plastic like a videotape gets burned 40 something miles up in a blaze like that I kinda doubt that it would survive.

But hey, things happen.

Because if it survived the initial breakup (and large parts of the shuttle did) I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t survive the rest of the descent basically intact. It could have been inside a larger piece that remained intact, then basically fluttered down on its own.

How high can terminal velocity be for a videotape cassette? Even if the plastic case was damaged, parts of the tape itself shouldn’t be destroyed.

It may have still been in the camera, which would give it a nice protective cocoon.

I can’t believe how much this has been discussed, all over the internet, already.

Firstly, it would’ve been inside something else. A camera, a recorder or whatever. Lots of bits of circuit boards, pieces of fabric, etc. survived. No reason to suspect a big hunk of VCR (or whatever they use) couldn’t survive either.

Secondly, all this was inside the shuttle…after the thing initially ripped apart, there really wouldn’t be much force. A cassette is light and not very aerodynamic and as such wouldn’t feel much force from re-entry.

Lastly, its quite possible more of the tape did survive - but who knows how much they’re letting us see.

Remember seeing those pictures of a cloth Columbia crewmember patch lying on the grass in Texas? Small, light objects can survive such a break-up surprisingly well - because size counts.

However, I find it suspicious that JUST the last few minutes of tape were destroyed. Personally, although I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, I think the whole thing survived but they just don’t want to show us the last few seconds where the shuttle is falling apart and the crew is burning alive. You know, I don’t want to see that anyhow, but I’d rather they say “we’re not going to show you the last 1.5 minutes where the crew looks like blazing marshmallows in a campfire and screaming for mercy because that’s upsetting for the families and friends, and anyone who would want to see that is a sicko anyhow.”

By the time the ship was breaking up, the camera probably had no power. I doubt there is any “blazing marshmellow” footage. And if there was and you wanted to keep it secret, why release any part of the tape at all?

Well, if you think of it, the last minutes of the tape would have been on the outside of the reel. So, IMHO, if any tape was going to be destroyed, it would be the most recent.

I thought it was a digital camera with no tape at all. Also, I agree that there may be more footage.

I would hardly consider witholding the last few minutes to be much of a “conspiracy”. As noted, I doubt they’d want news channels/internet getting ahold of it for the sake of the families. Seems like a good decision to me.

That’s only a slighty “maybe”. Far more likely is that when the shuttle burned up, there was nothing more than a white flash and thats it. So I doubt there is anything “interesting” afterall.

Related thread over in MPSIMS.

Does the video end before the disaster because the last minutes were destroyed, or because the camera was turned off at that point?

They say because the last few minutes were destroyed.

It was filmed in the same hollywood studio where they filmed the moon landings.


Are you saying a digital camera would not use tape, or that this particular one didn`t use any tape? Most digital camcorders still use tape.

It’s also the only tape out of some 250 onboard to survive in playable condition.

From the Nasa site:
‘On a nominal mission, video and audio would have been recorded through landing. However, the rest of this tape was apparently destroyed in the accident with only the first part of the tape, wound on the take up reel and without the tape case, being recovered. Of over 250 nearly identical tapes carried on Columbia during this mission, this is the only one discovered to date containing video recording.’

The last word I heard was that the crew compartment survived the initial breakup mainly intact but then continued to break up on the rest of the way down. (Like a well cracked eggshell.)

The camera holding the tape was inside the crew compartment.

As to the 250 tapes, the real problem is just finding them. This one was inside a camera, makes a larger object. Some tapes might go unnoticed on the ground since they could look like just regular garbage.