Minotaur Rocket Launch

September 22, 2005

This evening rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast was visible from the entire southwestern United States. I photographed the launch from a location just south of Phoenix, Arizona -- 500 miles away from the launch site! The mountain range in the foreground is the Sierra Estrella. The Minotaur rocket carried DARPA's Streak research satellite, being launched south into a polar orbit.

7:26 p.m. MST. 200mm, f/4, ~10 seconds. Rocket trail during 2nd stage burn.

7:27 p.m. MST. 200mm, f/4, ~10 seconds. 3rd stage burn, with gap due to stage 2 separation.

7:29 p.m. MST. 40mm, f/2.8, ~30 seconds. Exhaust plume from 3rd stage spreads out. Venus at extreme left.

7:34 p.m. MST. 200mm, f/4, ~60 seconds. Lingering trail from 2nd stage twists into corkscrew shape.

All photos taken using Fuji Provia 100F slide film with Olympus OM-1 35mm camera on fixed tripod, scanned with Nikon Coolscan LS-2000. Streaks from passing planes touched out on all images.

Thanks to Rick Scott for alerting me to this launch. See Rick's photos of the launch here.

Vandenberg launch schedules:

Revised: February 14, 2012
Copyright © 2005-2012 Joe Orman
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