An Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft successfully took off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station late last night (March 22), and the event was captured by multiple amateur sky photographers.
Atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the robotic cargo craft launched on its way toward the International Space Station, carrying crew supplies, science experiments and research tools. This is Orbital ATK's OA-6 such mission, part of NASA's Commercial Resupply Program.
From Tampa, Florida, Thomas Damgaard Sabo took a long-exposure image (seen above) of the rocket arcing skyward. The long-exposure time is evident from the brightness of the horizon (Sabo's line of sight would have crossed the bright lights of Orlando, Florida), and the short streaks created by the stars in the upper portion of the image.
Pilar Horne snapped another long-exposure image of the launch from the shore of Merritt Island, Florida, just across the Banana River from the launch site. the gorgeous snapshot is darker than Sabo's, as Horne would have been facing away from the mainland, toward the open ocean.
The Cygnus spacecraft was loaded with science experiments and other supplies that will help bring the space station back up to its regular baseline. The station's supply chain has taken a hit in the last two years, during which time three cargo-supply vehicles failed to reach the station, including one Cygnus spacecraft.
Sky photographer Victor Rogus snapped a distant view of the rising rocket from his home in Florida. The reddish streak of the rocket trail can be seen above a Florida neighborhood — the brightness of the houses and the sky comes from a flashlight Rogus was holding, as well as the full moon, which was lurking in the sky just over his shoulder, he told Space.com.