Wow! Wallops launch seen here
Well, that was pretty spectacular. The Minotaur 1/TacSat-2 launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility was easily seen from Baltimore, rising high in the blue eastern sky at 7 a.m. this morning. Here's some NASA video. And here's a terrific slide show from the Virginia Pilot.
The silvery contrail - gleaming in direct sunlight - rose perhaps 30 to 40 degrees above the horizon. First-stage burnout and second-stage ignition were cearly visible to the naked eye. The rocket looked for a time like a comet hovering in the east. I'll bet that surprised a lot of early risers. Let's hear your reports.
Here's an early report, copied from the SeeSat discussion group:
"I just watched the ascent live from my back deck. I live in Northeastern Maryland, USA (about 30 miles NE of Baltimore). The vehicle cleared the horizon with a bright contrail, and through my birding scope I could clearly see the comet-like fan behind it. I saw one staging event hrough the scope-the contrail stopped for a moment, and I could see the rocket itself as a reddish cylindrical object (lit by the almost-rising sun) and then a few seconds later the fan started again with a burst and it continued toward the east.
I took a couple of pictures; we'll see how they turn out later.
This was a very beautiful launch from here, and I look forward to seeing
more - Monroe Harden,Havre de Grace, MD
Here's a report from Joe Rao, a Space.com columnist:
"I will echo what Monroe wrote . . . it was a beautiful launch! I watched the NASA webcast of the liftoff from Wallops Island, then my family and I quickly headed outside. My home is in Putnam Valley, NY, about 50 miles north of NYC and more than 300 miles north-northwest of the Wallops Island Facility.
With the naked eye, the rocket could be seen as a very bright, pinpoint of light . . . better defined with 7 x 35 binoculars, along with a comet-like fan being emitted by the rocket in its wake. I lost sight of it about a minute after third-stage ignition, on its descent toward the southeast horizon. The "liftoff" part of the contrail was still visible . . . already wavy and distorted into a large "S" by high level winds.