SpaceX, Starlink, and planets

Managed to catch the SpaceX launch of more Starlink satellites this morning.

Also participating in the show were four planets in the early morning sky: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn.

Four planets in the sky.  From lower left to upper right: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn
Four planets in the sky. From lower left to upper right: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn

A couple minutes or so after the launch, we spotted the Falcon 9 plume.

SpaceX Falcon 9 exhaust plume visible over some houses in the foreground.
SpaceX Falcon 9 exhaust plume

This was shortly after the second stage separation and fairing separation. The two small specks of light close to each other are the two fairing halves. The third speck of light just behind and below the other two is the booster stage on its way back to the barge off the South Carolina coast. The speck of light above the rocket plume is Mars.

Falcon 9 rocket plume.  Faintly visible are the two fairing halves and the first stage booster.  Mars is in the background above the plume.
Falcon 9 rocket plume. Faintly visible are the two fairing halves and the first stage booster. Mars is in the background above the plume.

This shows the fairing halves and first stage booster a little better (lower right). Also visible are Venus and Jupiter in the lower left of the image. The larger blob of light above and to the left of the second stage rocket is just internal reflection of a street light across the street.

Falcon 9 second stage rocket.  Visible in the lower right are the two fairing halves and the first stage booster.  Venus and Jupiter are toward the lower left.
Falcon 9 second stage rocket. Visible in the lower right are the two fairing halves and the first stage booster. Venus and Jupiter are toward the lower left.

Always neat to see a rocket streaking by.

SpaceX Crew2 launch from the house!

Early yesterday morning, we were able to see the Commercial Crew 2 launch from the house.

We were watching the SpaceX live stream of the launch, and at about T+2:20 after lift-off, we spotted a small red light rising up behind some houses. We lost sight of it briefly as it got higher, but then we spotted the exhaust plume from the booster rocket once it got high enough to be illuminated by the rising sun.

Commercial Crew 2 launch seen from the house

The SD card in my phone picked overnight to get corrupted and unmount itself, so all of the pictures from earlier in the launch, including booster separation, didn’t get saved.

The photo below shows the larger plume of the second stage heading off toward the north, with the much smaller plume from the booster stage near the center of the image.

SpaceX Falcon 9 second stage rocket plume.  The exhaust plume from the booster stage is visible just below the center of the image
SpaceX Falcon 9 second stage rocket plume. The exhaust plume from the booster stage is visible just below the center of the image

It was interesting to see the puffs of exhaust as the booster stage made its way to the SpaceX drone ship.

Falcon 9 booster stage
Falcon 9 booster stage returning to the SpaceX drone ship

We were even able to see the booster stage start its landing burn as it landed off the coast.

Falcon 9 booster stage landing just below center
Falcon 9 booster stage heading to the drone ship

Pretty spectacular start to the day. With 11 crew on the ISS now, it’s going to need some more modules.

SpaceX (CRS-7) launch

We were out in Orlando for the weekend (more about that later) and as luck would have it, were able to find a spot to watch the SpaceX Dragon launch (CRS-7) off US-528 a few miles from the launch site. This was the first rocket launch I’ve seen in person and “up close”, so I was pretty excited. There were a fair number of people gathered at the same spot to see the launch too, but it wasn’t super crowded fortunately. The mid-morning launch also meant the sun was hot, but not unbearably so. I even had a random eyeball QSO with another ham who spotted me tuning around on my HT listening for any launch related radio chatter.

Managed to get some pretty decent pictures of the launch and the rocket ascending with my SLR and 300mm lens. The images are cropped in from the original with some histogram enhancement applied.

Launch time!

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About 20 seconds or so after the launch, the loud rumbling sound of the rocket firing reached us.

This was the last photo I took of the rocket before it disappeared behind the cloud. Not long after this shot, Connie told me the rocket had blown up.

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The crowd starting to leave the observing site after the launch.

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It was a very exciting first launch experience, although hearing about the rocket failure was very disappointing. I’m glad Connie found us a good spot to catch the launch from.

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