Plume from Vanderberg Missile Launch

November 10, 2005


Provided by: Rick Scott
Summary authors & editors: Rick Scott

This photo showing the spectacular plumes (condensation trails) from a Minotaur 4-stage missile was taken on September 22, 2005, at 7:35 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, from near Phoenix, Arizona. The launch site was located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and the missile payload was a "Streak" technology demonstration satellite. After the rocket was lost to sight, the plume from the second stage quickly expanded into a huge, diffuse glow that filled the sky from the horizon to about 15 degrees up. A bit later, the plume from the 1st stage evolved into a corkscrew shaped cloud that lasted longer than I expected. Since these condensation trails were sufficiently high to be illuminated by the Sun, which had set about an hour before the launch, they were easily visible to the unaided eye.

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