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Heavy-Lift Rocket Launch Seen from Space

Ariane 5 launch on Feb. 6, 2013 captured on camera by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio

Ariane 5 launch on Feb. 6, 2013 captured on camera by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio

We all know what a big rocket launch looks like from the ground, but this is what it looks like from above the ground — 260 miles above the ground! The photo above was captured from the Space Station earlier today by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, and it shows the contrail from a heavy-lift Ariane 5 that had just launched from ESA’s spaceport on the French Guiana coast: flight VA217, Arianespace’s milestone 250th launch carrying the ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus satellites into orbit.

Rick shared his view on Twitter with his nearly 39,000 followers, and now less than an hour later, we’re sharing it here. (Isn’t technology wonderful?)

For a more “natural” look, here it is reversed:

Rick Mastracchio's photo of the Ariane 5 launch, rotated 180 degrees.

Rick Mastracchio’s photo of the Ariane 5 launch, rotated 180 degrees.

The ISS was in the process of passing over Costa Rica when the image was taken. The rocket launched from Kourou, French Guiana — about 2,175 miles (3,500 km) away. What a view!

For this and more great images from orbit follow Rick on Twitter @AstroRM.

Watch a video of the VA217 launch below:

The 250th launch performed by Arianespace lifted off from ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana, delivering a dual-satellite payload into geostationary transfer orbit: ABS-2 for global satellite operator ABS, and Athena-Fidus for the defense/homeland security needs of France and Italy. The flight lasted just over 32 minutes. (Source)

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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