A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral this morning carrying a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station, lighting up the sky with a brilliant back lit exhaust plume.
Liftoff was precisely at 5:42:42 a.m. EDT from complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Less than 10 minutes later the Dragon spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9's upper stage and began a weekend-long chase of the orbital outpost, where the Dragon will be captured by robotic arm and berthed Monday morning.
The Dragon was carrying just shy of three tons of supplies, science experiments and hardware. It will remain attached to the space station until Aug. 2, when it will return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The launch took place about 45 minutes before local sunrise, which meant that as the rocket climbed away toward orbit, it flew out of the Earth's shadow and into daylight, allowing the sunshine to illuminate the rocket's exhaust plume from behind.
It's a spectacle that's just rare enough that you can expect to hear reports from people all along the Eastern Seaboard claiming they've seen a UFO or that a rocket or missile just blew up.
And if it seems like we're always talking about SpaceX and the Falcon 9 rocket, consider that we're basically half way through the year and the company has already launched 11 Falcon 9's. In fact, the next rocket scheduled to fly from the Cape is another Falcon 9 on July 21.