Last updated: 23 November 2003

Rocket Launch

Friday morning, 6 November 1998, I got up early to watch a rocket launch out of Vandenberg Air Force Base from my backyard. It was a Delta II that lifted off at 0537 (just before sunrise). I first saw a red light coming up through the trees across the street and then the rocket appeared above the trees.

Image: Delta II launch

There was a nice orange tail of flame (shown above). While I was looking through the binoculars, staging occurred. That was neat. Then it continued horizontally to the south, leaving a nice plume (shown below).

Image: Delta II launch

The final staging event that I saw sent a shockwave back through the plume. It was really something to see this. These photos were taken with my new Ricoh RDC-4200 digital camera at the 35mm lens setting. Now that I know I can see launches from my home I'm going to try for a video tape the next time, and maybe some shots through the ETX.

If you live in Southern California and would like to see launches, you can get Vandenberg launch information from the Space Archive.

After several launch delays (vehicle and weather problems), another Delta II was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. This launch was noticeably different in appearance from the one above but I managed to video tape it anyway. Here is the initial (best) portion of the launch as a QuickTime 3.0 movie. The launch took place about 2:30am local time in a very dark sky so you won't see much except the rocket exhaust.

Image: Delta II launch Click image to begin movie.
It will appear in a new window.

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