At 3:44am on May 22, 2012 SpaceX successfully launched one of it’s Falcon 9 rockets carrying a Dragon spacecraft into orbit. This mission will attempt to be the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft is a capsule type craft capable of sending and returning cargo and supplies as well as up to 7 passengers, making it the leading candidate to take the place of the former shuttle program for getting to and from the ISS.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several night/early morning launches from Cape Canaveral, which is about 50 miles south of where I live. This morning’s launch did not disappoint, casting that familiar orange glow upon the beaches of eastern Florida. Night/early morning launches also give the opportunity to catch a glimpse of returning stages of the rocket. For this launch SpaceX did not intend on retrieving the booster stage and allowed it to fall back to Earth with no parachute.
Even with a long exposure, my camera couldn’t capture this in the way it really looked. The falling booster stage glowed a pale yellow, slowly dropping to the ocean. With the haze on the horizon and the plume of rocket exhaust between it and myself, it looked like a giant in the distance holding an olde time lantern as if to say “Who Goes There?”
A composite shot of 4 separate, 8 second exposure shots.