A picture is worth a thousand words, but not if the picture is a blurry, pixelated mess. That’s what SpaceX probably realized when it looked at the badly garbled video feed from the historic powered landing of a Falcon 9 booster last month. Having already had a go at cleaning up the video, the company has released the raw footage to the public in hopes of crowdsourcing the restoration effort.
The 28-second video shows the last moments of the Falcon 9 booster as it made a controlled, zero-velocity landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean on April 26. The landing was carried out after the rocket lifted the unmanned CRS-3 Dragon mission into orbit as part of a NASA contract to resupply the International Space Station.
After second-stage separation, the booster would normally have fallen back into the atmosphere to crash into the sea, but SpaceX equipped the Falcon 9 with a set of experimental landing legs. After separation, the booster fired its engine again for a re-entry burn. Then it deployed its legs and as it approached the surface of the ocean, it fired its engine for the last time to make a controlled soft landing at zero velocity as if on dry land. According to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, this had only a 50 percent chance of success, but telemetry readings indicated that the rocket did make a soft landing before the data feed was lost. Unfortunately, the video feed link turned out to be very weak and the landing itself was recorded as a turbulent jumble of visual noise.
“We’re trying to clean the video feed, so we have something that we can make sense of," in a press conference announcing the landing, Musk. We’re going to clean it up and post it on our website and try to crowdsource to see if people out there can make it even better.”
As part of this effort, SpaceX has posted both the raw and cleaned video files on its website and invites the public to have a go at fixing the video as part of a crowdsourcing effort. The company also invites the crowdsourcers to post their efforts on SpaceX’s Reddit page.
The videos below show the raw footage, and the initial effort at cleaning the footage.