Europe

Filming a rocket launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome

  • 9 November 2013
  • From the section Europe

I have been a camerawoman for 10 years, but the chance to film a rocket going into space was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

After a 22-hour journey to Baikonur in Kazakhstan, we had a 4am start. We were escorted into the cosmodrome, a collection of scruffy, space buildings in the desert.

Then the hangar door opened, revealing the huge, red booster rockets looming in dark.

The sun started to rise, and it was like a curtain had lifted, showing the incredible vast landscape of the desert steppe with the Space rocket crawling through it.

BBC camerawoman Rachel Price with Soyuz rocket in background
Rachel Price with the Soyuz rocket heading to launch site

Launch Day

We filmed the astronauts as they emerged in their spacesuits in the dark, holding the Olympic torch. They climbed onto the same bus that Yuri Gagarin used on the day he became the first man to launch into space.

Then, with every cameraman looking for the perfect spot, there was a last dash to the platform overlooking the launch pad.

The Soyuz rocket stood glistening in the sunrise.

Fifteen minutes before launch, I had two cameras set up. One for the live position and my main camera for our correspondent.

One minute to go

Daniel Sandford stepped in front of the main camera and we had one last rehearsal. This "piece to camera" had to be a "one-take wonder" with perfect timing.

Blast off. I saw a huge amount of smoke and flames, but there was no sound. We were 1 km away. The rocket started to move. Boom! The sound had finally reached us, and Daniel started talking. I zoomed out to bring him into the picture.

The rocket was moving fast out of shot so I panned up off Daniel, chasing the flaming rocket up into the blue sky. A perfect take. That was what we came for.

In less than a minute, the rocket was just a burning speck. The torch, strapped inside the capsule on top of the rocket was heading out of the atmosphere.

Baikonur cosmodrome

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