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Blastoff! Most Amazing Rocket Launch Photos of 2011

NPP Launch Arc
(Image: © NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA's NPP Launch from Afar

NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA's NPP climate and weather satellite roars into space on Oct. 28, 2011.

India Launches New Satellite on July 15, 2011

India Space Research Organization

The Indian Space Research Organiztion launches a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carrying the new GSAT-12 communications satellite on July 15, 2011 in a mission from the Satish Space Centre at Sriharikota Island off India's southeastern coast.

Juno Launch as Seen by Astronaut Nicole Stott

Nicole Stott (via Twitter as @Astro_Nicole)

Astronaut Nicole Stott caught Juno's launch on August 5, 2011. She tweeted the picture with this comment: "Our view of Juno launch from Cocoa Beach. Next stop Jupiter! Beautiful!"

THAAD Missile Test 2011

Missile Defense Agency/U.S. Department of Defense

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during the system's first operational test at 1:56 a.m. EDT Oct. 5, 2011, at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii. The test was conducted by the Ballistic Missile Defense System Operational Test Agency with the support of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. During the test the THAAD system engaged and simultaneously intercepted two ballistic missile targets.

Shuttle Launch From Plane

Ryan Graff, courtesy of @ChadGraff

Ryan Graff took this photo of space shuttle Atlantis' final launch from the window of a Southwest Airlines plane. Photo was posted on Twitter by Ryan Graff's brother, Chad Graff @ChadGraff.

X-37B Soars Toward Space

United Launch Alliance

The Air Force's second X-37B space plane soars toward space atop an Atlas 5 rocket after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011.

Japan HTV-2 Launch

JAXA

Japan's Kounotori 2 unmanned cargo spacecraft launches toward the International Space Station Jan. 22, 2010.

ESA's ATV-2 Johannes Kepler Launches Toward ISS

ESA - S. Corvaja, 2011

ESA’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle, was launched today evening from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, in French Guiana, at 22:50:55 CET by an Ariane 5 to deliver critical supplies and reboost the International Space Station

Shuttle Discovery's Long Shadows

NASA/Jeff Marino

The exhaust plume of space shuttle Discovery casts a long shadow after the shuttle's final launch on Feb. 24, 2011 to kick off NASA's STS-133 mission to the International Space Station.

Glory Satellite Launches on Taurus XL Rocket

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA’s Glory spacecraft launched from Space Launch Complex 576-E here at 2:09 a.m. (PST) March 4, 2011.

Soyuz Named For Yuri Gagarin Blasts Off

NASA TV

A Russian Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, named for famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - the first human in space - launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 4, 2011 at 6:18 p.m. EDT.

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