Another Night Launch Out Of Vandenberg

Perhaps not quite as spectacular as a launch just after sunset, when the sky is almost dark but the Sun’s still just over the horizon, illuminating the cloud of gas at stage separation to make a giant “space squid” in the sky. Perhaps. But far easier to see than a day launch, where with binoculars you might see a bright dot for five seconds, if you’re lucky.

About 45-50 seconds after launch something like 100 miles northwest of here, the rocket climbs high enough to be seen above the mountains to our west. The rocket’s tail is orange and grows longer as the rocket climbs and the atmosphere gets thinner. It also turns more blue and white, finally blinking out as the first stage shuts down and separates from the second stage.

Visually I could see the rocket’s second stage firing and pushing the payload on to orbit for another two minutes or so. With binoculars in the past I’ve seen it for another two or three minutes, all the way until it disappears over the horizon to the south. Tonight, with just my Mark I eyeballs, I wasn’t quite that lucky.

Quite the show! I can’t wait to see a launch much more up close and personal.

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