This evening, as the halo of the moon kept my camera's and my focus, the Minotaur I satellite was priming for launch from the NASA Wallops Island facility. Near Chincoteague, VA, the rocket sets a record of delivering 29 satellites (28 cubesats and 2 non-separating tertiary payloads) into LEO, or Low Earth Orbit.
|Minotaur Ascends with Stage Separation|
The orange glow of the rockets illuminated through the trees and passed above the oak as we watched from ESO Mission Control. As it followed a graceful arc, I could see the separation of the stages as they peeled away from the rocket, briefly illuminated by the fiery thrust.
|Accelerating to the Heavens|
As the Orbital Sciences rocket accelerated out of view, I am reminded of a quote from Alan Shepard:
"It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract""