Atlas rocket puts on a spectacular pre-dawn sky show

Photo: United Launch Alliance.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket soared into the sunlight after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. High in the upper atmosphere, the rocket’s illuminated plume expanded, creating a spectacular sight that was visible as far away as Miami.

The rocket was carrying a large communications satellite into orbit for the US Navy. Lift off on 2 September was delayed 19 minutes because of technical problem at the launch pad. Had the launch occurred on time the lighting conditions might not have so favourable.