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Best Rocket Launch Photos of 2012

Spy Satellite NROL-38 Launches: June 20, 2012

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launches the classified NROL-38 spy satellite into orbit from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 20, 2012. Liftoff occurred at 8:28 a.m. EDT. The national security satellite will be used by the National Reconnaissance Office.

United Launch Alliance Upgraded Delta IV Heavy Rocket

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 29, 2012 with a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The launch placed the NROL-15 satellite into orbit.

Japan's H-2B Rocket Launches HTV-3

JAXA

Japan's robotic HTV-3 cargo spaceship launches July 20, 2012 from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The spacecraft is carrying new supplies for the International Space Station.

Expedition 32 Launch

NASA/Carla Cioffi

The Soyuz TMA-05M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 15, 2012.

Launch Photo: Radiation Belt Storm Probes

United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off with NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 30, 2012. Liftoff occurred at 4:05 a.m. EDT.

Atlas 5 Rocket Lifts Off with NROL-36 Spy Satellite

Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 2:39 p.m. PDT with the NROL-36 national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Launch of MetOp-B Satellite

Roscosmos

Launch of the Soyuz-2.1a with Fregat upper stage and MetOp-B satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 17, 2012.

Global Positioning System IIF-3 Satellite Launch

Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-37 on Oct. 4, 2012, at 8:10 a.m. EDT with the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3 satellite.

Looking Down on Dragon's Launch

SpaceX

A view looking down at SpaceX's Dragon capsule as it lifts off the pad on Oct. 7, 2012.

Soyuz Rocket Launches Galileo Satellites: Engine Blaze

ESA–S. Corvaja

A Russian Soyuz lifts off for the third time from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place the second pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites into orbit from Kourou, French Guiana, on Oct. 12, 2012.

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