Thursday, April 22, 2010

Atlas V Rocket Thunders Aloft With Mini-Military Shuttle

An Atlas rocket hauled a new military spaceplane into orbit tonight after a spectacular sunset launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The 19-story rocket blasted off from Launch Complex 41 at 7:52 p.m. and then climbed into a clear blue sky as the sun was setting in the west. United Launch Alliance announced a successful mission, so presumably the spacecraft is on its way to an operational low Earth orbit. Launch commentary came to a pre-planned halt 17 minutes after launch when the Centaur upper stage engines cut off as scheduled.

NOTE ON IMAGE: Click to enlarge the spectacular shot of the Atlas V rocket blasting off with the Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a spacecraft that looks like a small shuttle and is flying a shakedown cruise that will end with a California landing sometime in the next nine months. Photo credit: Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today.


Anonymous said...

Watched it from Ft Lauderdale, nice launch, I followed it to the east and at its highest visible point saw two and then as many as 4 bright lights equal to the rockets exhaust in brightness. Weather conditions excellent. Anyone else observe this?

Dennis said...

Thanks for your coverage Todd!

Anonymous said...

You likely saw the reflected light from the payload fairings after they separated.

Dennis said...

The fairing broke into three pieces, which at that height reflected the setting sun superbly, like a strobe light.

Stephen C. Smith said...

Home video from my neighborhood in north Merritt Island of the launch is now up on

Never fails to amaze me how many people are oblivious to these launches. Cars drive by, kids go screaming by playing on toys. Some people come out to watch but not a lot.

Anonymous said...

Watched it from Turks and Caicos Islands 500 miles SE from Miami after an incredible sunset i spot the bright light in a clear sky it was AMAZING!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!!

Jerry W said...

Great launch X37 should work out in the future a great space vehicle

He emerged from the vapors with a message that had no meaning; but He
hypnotized the people telling them, "I am sent to save you."
I shall save you with hope and Change. Go, therefore, and proclaim
throughout the land that he who proceeded me is evil, that he has
defiled the nation, and that all he has built must be destroyed.
And the people rejoiced, for even though they knew not what
"The One" would do, he had promised that it was good; and they
believed. And "The One" said " We live in the greatest country
in the world. Help me change everything about it!" And the people
said, "Hallelujah! Change is good so the existing Shuttle must go
and I will replace it with the"" X37""

Anonymous said...