Best Rocket Launch Photos of 2012

Vega Rocket Launches With Birds

ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012

On February 13, 2012, the first Vega lifted off on its maiden flight from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Delta 4 Rocket Launch Over Florida


Photographer Mike Killian captured this picture of the Jan. 19, 2012, Delta 4 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

MUOS-1 Satellite Launches on Atlas 5 Rocket

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 24, 2012, with the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-1 (MUOS-1) satellite.

Proton Rocket Launches Intelsat 22 Satellite

Khrunichev/Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)

A Russian Proton rocket soars into the sky in a successful launch of the new Intelsat 22 communications satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 24, 2012.

NROL-25 Liftoff Through Mobile Service Tower

United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV carrying the NROL-25 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, April 3, 2012.

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches the AEHF-2 Satellite

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off with the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency-2 (AEHF-2) satellite from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 2:42 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2012.

Expedition 33 Soyuz Launch

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz rocket with Expedition 33/34 crew members, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy, Flight Engineer Kevin Ford of NASA, and Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin of ROSCOSMOS onboard the TMA-06M spacecraft launches to the International Space Station on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin will be on a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

Expedition 31 Soyuz Launch

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz TMA-04M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 carrying Expedition 31 Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin to the International Space Station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Over Space Shuttle

Robert Pearlman/

SpaceX's first space station-bound Dragon spacecraft, flying atop a Falcon 9 rocket, launches behind a high fidelity mockup of the space shuttle, NASA's previous means of delivering cargo to International Space Station. Liftoff occurred on May 22, 2012 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Falcon 9 Arcs Through the Sky

James Fink (via Twitter @SpaceX)

SpaceX tweeted this photo of the Falcon 9 launch on May 22, 2012. The company wrote: "Incredible shot of Falcon 9 launch (photo credit: James Fink)"

China Launches Shenzhou 9 Mission

China Manned Space Engineering Office

A Chinese Long March 2F rocket launches on the Shenzhou 9 mission, China's first manned space docking flight and first flight of a female astronaut, on June 16, 2012 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

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