The images of Challenger taking off and subsequently exploding (specifically at 1:35 of this video) - was there some unmanned rocket / other vehicle that was trailing the shuttle? Somehow it appears that the camera angle is taken from roughly the same altitude as the shuttle, at the time of the explosion.
By the same token, from 0:41 to 0:58 of the same video, it also seems as if the camera is “trailing” the space shuttle (i.e. not some CNN camera man on the ground, tilting his camera continuously upward).
I’m sure this is a stupid question to some, but hopefully a reasonable question to many more others.
Hopefully someone else can answer with more details, but as a general comment, it’s a common misapprehension that rockets go straight up. On the contrary; they’re traveling largely sideways (downrange). Getting to orbital altitude is fairly easy; getting to orbital velocity is not, and requires most of the acceleration to be parallel to Earth’s surface. That is much of the reason why the camera seems to be tailing the shuttle.
As for why the camera appears to be at the same altitude, I’d guess that the camera is on the ground, but simply very far away. But I really don’t know for sure.
NASA’s got some pretty good telescopes.
NASA uses huge tracking cameras. Someone will probably know the exact camera used, but for now, you can see one at the bottom of this page although that’s a current day FLIR camera. Here is one from the 50s.
This image gives you an idea of the track the shuttle takes. Put one of those big cameras at the right spot and you can follow it along like you’re flying in a chase shuttle.
Actually, this may be better. Looking at the last photo I posted of the “arc”, I imagined the shuttle was near the middle of the arc and the camera under it looking up, but it didn’t arc as much as my photo above.
This amateur footage from a camcorder shows that it went almost straight up before the explosion and gives you an idea of it’s altitude and position. Now just imagine if this guy had one of those big cameras. A big camera some miles away would give the view you’re asking about.