When SpaceX launched a new Starlink fleet into orbit last week, the rocket wasn't the only star.
As SpaceX prepared its ground-based tracking cameras for the early-morning Falcon 9 rocket launch from Florida on May 18, its operators snagged a spectacular view of the nearly full moon. Minutes later, the Falcon 9 launched 53 Starlink satellites to space from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
"What you're looking at on your screen is this incredible live shot of the being beincg captured by one of our tracking cameras at the Cape," SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson said during a live broadcast. "Now, these are the same cameras that we use to track Falcon 9 during launch, and today we're getting a bonus view of the moon, which looks pretty incredible there on your screen." Anderson said the view was captured with the help of a SpaceX launch engineer named John.
Related: SpaceX's Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
The amazing solar system sights did not stop there.
When SpaceX launched the Starlink mission at 6:54 a.m. EDT (2254 GMT), one company photographer captured stunning views of the Falcon 9 with the rising sun.
In one photo, the Falcon 9 soars spaceward as a silhouette as the morning sun glows with warm yellow-orange light. A second photo captures the moment the Falcon 9 crossed in front of the sun, as seen by the photographer.
The next SpaceX rocket launch will be a the company's Transporter 5 rideshare mission carrying a variety of small satellites for customers. That flight is scheduled for no earlier than May 25 from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.