Monday night, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the JCSAT-18 Kacific 1 communications satellite into orbit. I drove over to watch it in person.
I met up with a photog friend and his dad at a boat ramp about 22 miles away from the launch pad. Nice dark skies. Lots of open water between us and the launch pad.
The header shot was taken about 15 minutes before launch. You can see Orion and Taurus rising in the eastern sky. The little line in the sky at the top of the frame is from a satellite, OAO-2. It’s proper name is Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2. NASA launched it on December 7th of 1968. It was the first successful space telescope. Pretty cool.
The launch was at 7:10 pm. It was still light when we first arrived. This was the view while the sun was still sort-of up.
Finally it was time. Maybe 15 to 20 other people showed up at the spot just before the launch to watch, so we had a little launch party. Rockets are always best enjoyed with friends. The launch was spectacular. The view from this spot was amazing. After stage separation, you could see the second stage burn for about five or six minutes. You could also see the booster coming in for it’s landing on SpaceX’s drone ship. This was happening hundreds and hundreds of miles off shore. You can see the booster burn above the horizon just to the left of center.
This never gets old. Never.
As we were leaving, driving down the only road out, we encountered an obstacle. A train. A train that wasn’t moving. We discovered it had pulled over on to a side track to let one traveling the opposite direction pass. This was taken when that train was flying by. And was really hauling ass.
We were slightly concerned that we could be stuck for a long time. Thankfully we were only held up for about 30 minutes.
Just for fun, I also shot the launch on my iPhone 11 Pro Max. I did three consecutive 30-second Night Mode exposures and stacked them together. It came out better than I thought it would.
I think are some apps that do this a little better than Apple’s in-camera magic, but no big deal. It was just for fun.
It’s also time to wash The Ranger. It got a little crusty last night. Even after driving 150 miles home, the whole underside was chunky with this crap.