Rocket leaves stunning contrail in sky over LA – NBC Los Angeles

on Sep15
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A well timed launch from the California coast wowed Southern Californians when the rocket blazed a sunlit trail across the evening sky just after sunset.

The contrail was painted in the sky by a Firefly Aerospace rocket that launched Thursday evening from Vandenberg Space Force Base northwest of Santa Barbara. The contrail could be seen from as far away as San Diego County, Arizona and Las Vegas.

A rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base as seen from Big Bear Thursday Sept. 15, 2023.


Kerry Vale

A rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base as seen from Big Bear Thursday Sept. 15, 2023.

Launches before sunrise and after sunset offer more spectacular viewing with a darker sky in the background and light from the sun illuminated the rocket and its contrail. The result can be a spectacle in the sky within view of millions of people in Southern California and beyond.

The launch had been scheduled for some time between September and March, but no exact date was given prior to launch. First reports of the spectacular contrail came in at about 7:30 p.m. from around Los Angeles and beyond.

A Firefly rocket launch as seen from Balboa Island Thursday Sept. 14, 2023.


Christian R

A Firefly rocket launch as seen from Balboa Island Thursday Sept. 14, 2023.

The mission, known as VICTUS NOX, lifted off at 7:28 p.m. at Vandenberg Space Force Base. The response time exercise was on behalf of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command.

“Liftoff took place at the first available launch window, 27 hours after receipt of launch orders, setting a new record for responsive space launch,” Firefly Aerospace said in a news release.

A Millennium Space Systems-built space vehicle was mated to the rocket. The space vehicle is now in orbit.

After receiving notice to launch from the U.S. Space Force, all final launch preparations, including software updates, transport to the launch pad, mating of the spacecraft to the rocket and fueling within 24 hours, according to Firefly Aerospace.



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