CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. — After a short delay over a technical issue, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched into orbit early Thursday morning.
- ULA Atlas V launched into orbit early Thursday morning
- It was the 2nd launch from Florida in a span of days
- RELATED: SpaceX Falcon 9 Blasts Off Carrying Communications Satellite
With two and a half million pounds of thrust, the rocket lifted off successfully at 6:13 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The 197-foot-tall Atlas V roared off its pad at Space Launch Complex 41.
On board is the AEHF-5 satellite, a communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
Built by Lockheed Martin, it's the fifth in a series of six next-generation satellites meant to help the military. The satellite is also jam-resistant in case a hostile nation wants to block its signal.
"This satellite provides real time video, voice, maps, imagery. It's kind of like going from your flip phone to your smart phone," said Chris Pettigrew with Lockheed Martin Space. "It's that big of an evolution in terms of data rates and speeds."
Because the launch was right before sunrise, we got treated to some amazing visuals in the early-morning Central Florida skies.
Now, after a quiet first half of the year, the rate of launches will pick up in Florida. A Delta IV rocket with a GPS satellite is set to launch at the end of this month.
What causes a contrail?
It was a beautiful sight for folks who saw it, took pictures and flooded social media.
Spectrum News received some calls from concerned viewers about what they were watching.
And there's nothing to worry.
The effect is called a contrail.
"The rocket's rising altitude allowed the sun to illuminate ice crystals in the rocket plume," said Heather McFarland, spokesperson for United Launch Alliance. "The Earth’s curvature provided the unique visual of the trajectory."
McFarland also told Spectrum News this is not an unusual occurrence for early morning launches.
Stay with Spectrum News for live coverage of every launch from Florida as part of Destination Space.