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SpaceX Looking For Help With "Landing" Video 110

Maddog Batty (112434) writes "SpaceX recently made the news by managing to soft land at sea the first stage of rocket used to launch its third supply mission to the International Space Station. Telemetry reported that it was able to hover for eight seconds above the sea before running out of fuel and falling horizontal. Unfortunately, due to stormy weather at the time, their support ship wasn't able to get to the "landing" spot at the time and the first stage wasn't recovered and is likely now on the sea bed. Video of the landing was produced and transmitted to an aeroplane but unfortunately it is rather corrupted. SpaceX have attempted to improve it but it isn't much better. They are now looking for help to improve it further."
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SpaceX Looking For Help With "Landing" Video

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  • I smell a Photoshop Friday theme...

    Watching that video on YouTube, it'd be tough to clean up or reconstruct - there's a lot of information missing.

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      There's a lot of information missing to be sure, but it's still worth pointing out that SpaceX posted the raw transport stream data [] that they got from the rocket, so reconstruction can be done on the raw data rather than YouTube.

      • I'm not an expert but it looks like what happens when a keyframe is dropped. Maybe reverse engineering (or solving like a puzzle) the key frame would yield some results?
  • Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @07:05PM (#46885097)

    I appreciate them looking for public help. It's a gesture of trust and openness usually not seen from either goverment or private corporations.
    Though I suspect most the the video is beyond salvage.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    how does something fall horizontally? some strange gravity out there.

    • In this case "fall horizontal" means "fall into a horizontal position". Not "fall horizontally".

      • by Anonymous Coward

        a satellite in orbit is constantly falling. horizontally.

  • If we had access to the telemetry as say an FBX or Alembic file, it'd be pretty trivial to produce a visual representation of what happened, using what little video can be deciphered....without that, I don't see how anything can be salvaged
  • Well, it was Raw until YouTube re-compressed the hell out of it. Seriously, I don't think you have any shot if you start off with this YouTube footage. If they really want help we need the actual raw bitstream. I/Q output from the receiver would be even better. Even better than that would be diversity receivers. Aren't those guys the rocket scientists?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Yes, but not video experts.

    • There's raw data in one of the links above. Some .ts format.

      • H264 - MPEG 4 AVC 1280x532 23.976216 FPS according to VLC. TS is transport stream, in this case an MPEG 4 transport stream.
        • There is no such thing as MPEG4 transport stream.

          Transport stream is MPEG2. Its contents can be MPEG4, MPEG4 AVC, H265 or anything else.

    • by Vairon ( 17314 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @07:14PM (#46885193)

      It still is raw. If you follow the link in the summary "looking for help" [] it takes you to their page where they show you the before and after videos via youtube and give you access to the raw footage. Here's the link they provide to the raw footage: []

    • Look up the acronym RTFA sometime. You might be surprised what you find.
    • by hutsell ( 1228828 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @02:02AM (#46886997) Homepage

      Well, it was Raw until YouTube re-compressed the hell out of it. Seriously, I don't think you have any shot if you start off with this YouTube footage. If they really want help we need the actual raw bitstream. I/Q output from the receiver would be even better. Even better than that would be diversity receivers. Aren't those guys the rocket scientists?

      Available for download: This is the location for the original raw ".ts" file []. A second link is also given to a repaired raw ".ts" file [] showing the results of their efforts. If preferred, you can also get the original ".ts" files at the spacex [] website near the bottom of that webpage.

  • Whatever happened to redundant/multiple video recordings, like you know, how we back up data? Failing that, a stronger signal wouldn't hurt surely?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MonkeyBoy ( 4760 )

      The other cameras were on the recovery ship, which couldn't reach the recovery area without, you know, sinking. They'd have ended up roughly where the master recording currently is, resting on the ocean floor.

      The problem isn't the camera, it's that the data was garbled during transmission. In part because both the source and destination locations were in constant (and, given the storm, quite random) motion. It's hard to hit the side of the barn when you're aiming from mid-air in the center of a tornado.


    • Stronger signals take bigger transmitters with higher power consumption. They don't normally require such a signal: for launch (and eventual solid-ground landings) they have line of sight with big receivers, and when they actually recover a stage, they'll be able to get recordings. The splashdown was below the horizon from the launch site, and the video signal was picked up from a chase plane. To top it all off, weather was lousy and deteriorating fast.

      They'll have a lot more launches and landings, another

      • Stronger signals take bigger transmitters with higher power consumption.

        Its a fucking rocket dude, the cost of a high power transmitter that doesn't use fucking mpeg or any compression is an unnoticeable drop in the bucket. Hell, 20 of them wouldn't be a noticeable dent in the budget compared to the fuel it burned holding for 8 seconds.

        Its fucking retarded that this is what they have to work with.

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @02:35AM (#46887093) Homepage Journal

          There's not a lot of equipment that's flight rated for the kinds of vibration, temperature and pressure swings required by an external rocket, not to mention power source transmitter and antenna(s). Oh, and it can't interfere with the landing telemetry in any way.

        • by cjameshuff ( 624879 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:32AM (#46888035) Homepage

          You *do* realize the power output of a rocket engine isn't electrical, right?

          In reality, spacecraft have strictly limited power budgets. The booster's electronics are running off battery power from the moment the umbilicals disconnect. It also flew above the bulk of the atmosphere, so you can't exactly rely on air cooling to keep the transmitter from frying itself...and there's plenty of other power-consuming, heat-producing electronics that have rather more important functions. And a more powerful transmitter would be completely unnecessary for the solid-ground landings, which SpaceX hopes to start by the end of the year.

    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      Redundant systems are only for taxpayer funded projects. Commercial systems save pennies without them, adding dollars to executive bonuses.

  • Lemme take another look.

  • by larwe ( 858929 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @10:07PM (#46886141)
    ... until they post an analog recording of the telemetry. The bitstream *as decoded* is corrupted because of demodulation errors, and you can't reconstruct data that isn't there. If they have an analog recording, then analog filters can be applied to that in an attempt to create a cleaner input signal to the demodulator stage. An analogy: They have taken a picture of a page of text, rather out of focus and dark, and used OCR software on it. All they are giving us is the output of the OCR software. We need to see the original picture so we can apply better filtering/contrast adjustments to it before attempting pattern recognition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you are living in the past. To the best of my knowledge nobody records analog data streams for digital video. There is very little analog hardware in the system. The analog signal pretty much goes through an A/D converter as soon as possible, and the error correction is digital.

      Terrestrial broadcast HDTV in the US uses 8VSB [] encoding:

      8VSB is an 8-level vestigial sideband modulation. In essence, it converts a binary stream into an octal representation by amplitude modulating a sinusoidal carrier to

      • by larwe ( 858929 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @11:32PM (#46886479)
        There is so much wrong in this I barely know where to begin. Nobody records analog streams for digital TV data, but this is completely irrelevant. Everybody records analog streams for spacecraft telemetry because you can't post-analyze an improperly demodulated digital data recording. Doppler velocity measurement is also performed from the raw signal, for example by mixing with a signal at the original (TXCO-controlled) carrier frequency and observing the beat. The A/D stage is NOT demodulation, it's digitization. A digitized recording of an analog waveform is nothing even remotely akin to recording the binary output of a demodulator stage. (For practical purposes, a modern recording would, indeed, be digital - but it would be a digital recording of the original received waveform, not simply a recording of the realtime output from a demod). Having the original waveform to look at allows different types of filters to be tried and applied, not just the single set of parameters that were in the realtime decoder on board the aircraft. It's absolutely the baseline for data recovery in this type of application. Telemetry = "remote measurement", a term used to refer to data streams downlinked from the vehicle that are not crew communications or control data, which includes still and moving image data.
        • by cusco ( 717999 )

          You're thinking like a scientist or a researcher, not like a businessman. Which system is cheaper? That's going to be the main criteria for something like SpaceX. How likely is it that we will ever need better data, and if we have better data will it actually make us more money? Privatization of space operations is all well and good, as long as everyone keeps in mind their rather strict limitation: the need to make money all the time no matter what.

      • I think you are living in the past.

        And thats why you (and if SpaceX didn't record it, them to) will fail. Kids who think like you are the reason SpaceX is asking for outside help.

        I'm fairly certain you don't understand how these things actually work.

        And NASA most certainly would disagree with you as well. As do I, none of my video transmitters on my aircraft are digital. Even my telemetry radios can record the analog stream, though I don't do it.

        You most certainly CAN filter the analog stream to create a cleaner signal to the digital stag

        • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:23AM (#46887991)
          Sorry Chucko. Wrong on ALL COUNTS.

          I was a "rocket scientist". In fact, I worked for NASA at JPL. It's a modest little place in Pasadena, California. I doubt that you heard of it.

          I also worked on MEG-4 decoding software, so I know something about digital video streams.

          As for being a "kid", thanks for the complement. I know I look young for my age. I wrote my first program in 1968 on punch cards for an IBM 360. In PL/1.

          Now I'm going to say it again more slowly:

          The. Video. Stream. Was. Not. From. The. Rocket.

          It. Was. From. An. Aircraft. Sent. Out. To. View. The. Splashdown.

          It. Was. Not. A. Telemetry. Data. Stream.

          Since. It. Was. Not. Telemetry. It. Was. Not. Recorded. In. Analog. Form.

          The. Camera. System. Was. Not. Spacecraft. Grade.

          It. Was. An. Off. The. Shelf. Piece. Of. Equipment.

          I hope that this makes sense to you. I know it's Slashdot, so a lack of real applicable technical expertise is the way to get modded up. Unfortunately for me, I have this problem with facts: I try to stay factual, so I often get modded down. For some reason I still keep trying. I think it's a personality flaw.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I'm no rocket scientist, but i can read... The SpaceX page clearly says "[this is video] recovered from the Falcon 9 onboard camera", so what's all this nonsense about the stream being from some airplane? Also in some of the final frames of the improved video you can clearly see that it's a camera mounted on the top of the rocket looking down at the fins, seeing smoke and flame from the engines.

            I really believe that you know what you're talking about, but I think in your haste you might have missed some r

          • Of the shelf piece of equipment....


          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            So if the camera was on the aircraft how did it get corrupted?
            I thought that the camera was on the booster and the aircraft was there to receive data from the landing attempt. I can see that since it was probably not in LOS to any piece of land and sending the data to an aircraft would be simpler and probably cheaper than sending it to a satellite.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Has no Slashdotter actually compared the two files? Clearly the bytes that have changed in the repaired file have been right-shifted 1 or 2 bits and the "new" top bits (bits 7 and sometimes 6) being set (by hand?) to 0 or 1 probably as needed. I don't think I see anything shifted by three bits or more, mostly just one and sometimes two. It looks like they had trouble syncing each byte as it was received via some serial feed (without FEC I assume) -- if I had the time I'd setup a build of VLC in a debugge

    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      Agreed. I've done this in the past and starting as close to the original analog telemetry stream as possible is essential. Even if the noise is so bad that analog filtering doesn't recover any new data in the preD, simply knowing where there is missing data and exactly how much can help tremendously in reconstructing the data. Their raw mpeg files don't provide any of that information.

  • Seriously, land in a desert or something similar. Much easier to recover protected data storage units. If you can't hit the landing spot of a massive dessert, theres no way anyones going to let them land on a landing pad.
    • This test was to ensure that they could hit a relatively small target (at an acceptable speed to not crater the rocket). The ocean is cool in that, storms aside, you can pretty easily get to just about any part of it. Deserts are full of rocky terrain, outcroppings and small settlements that don't take to kindly to the sky falling. Now that they've demonstrated that they can hit a decent sized target, they'll probably go for a near-ground ocean landing or possibly a ground landing on their next mission.
      • Besides for that, they have ULA taking out full page ads in the Washington Post about how great they are - complete with spelling errors LOL.
  • try "computer, enhance ..."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They should just send frame by frame to the CSI guys and they will than click ----enhance----, DUH.

  • So they try to transmit raw MPEG without any FEC coding?

    I guess they could have been more successfull by beaming analog CVBS instead.

    Telecommunications has improved since the 80s, you know.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!