Susan Kitchens says there’ll be a satellite launch from Vandenberg AFB at 7:24 PDT tonight. That’s a little after local sunset, which means the Sun illuminates the rocket’s exhaust plume from behind against the darkening sky. It’s an incredible sight. And the launch will be visible from the Bay Area.
Update: It launched, but we had unbroken cloud cover to the south, so I only saw it for a couple of seconds through a gap in the clouds.
A commuter down South by La Palma got a shot of it staging. They didn’t know what they were watching.
The launch was visible from as far east as Phoenix, Arizona.
I saw the previous twilight launch from Vandenberg, a Minuteman ICBM carrying a target for an interceptor test, back in 2002.
This time the payload is a military satellite. The launch vehicle is the Minotaur, a decommissioned Minuteman ICBM, with a couple of extra stages from a Pegasus on top that give the extra kick to put the payload in orbit. It burns solid fuel, which produces an easy to see plume.
Spaceflight Now has a status page for the launch, so check it to see if they are still on schedule.
There’s information on watching launches out of Vandenberg at Space Archive.
If you’re taking pictures, share and tag!
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