AFSPC-5 (Atlas V)
20 May 2015
Space Launch Complex 41
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Images from the NASA Causeway "VIP" viewing site, which was not very crowded on what turned out to be a scorching 20 May 2015 morning for the launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane into orbit. The X-37B for this mission is designated the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) - 5 satellite. Up at left next to the medical tent with the striped blue top is a food truck dispensing barbeque.
This panting female Grackle with her drooping wings trying to keep cool is a little indication of how hot it was out there.
The viewing site is along the Banana River where a large number of Dolphins kept the crowd entertained by their antics as they aggressively chased fish. One Dolphin even jumped completely out of the water a number of times to the great delight of the crowd.
Brown Pelicans and Roseate Spoonbills, like this one, often flew to and from a nearby rookery island where a lot of nesting was going on.
A Brown Pelican flies over the Banana River while in the distance the Atlas V venting a cloud of liquid oxygen sits atop Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Inside the large fairing atop the rocket is the X-37B, sort of an unmanned, reusable, mini space shuttle that can fly back from space to land on a runway. This flight of the X-37B, like all its previous flights, is a classified military mission of which little is known. An Aft Bulkhead Carrier is also installed on the rocket, carrying ten CubeSats into orbit sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. The ten CubeSats were developed by the U.S. Naval Academy, the Aerospace Corporation, the Air Force Research Laboratory, California Polytechnic State University, and the Planetary Society. The Planetary Society Cubesat is an experimental solar sail designed to test the concept in orbit. The Atlas V launched on time at 11:05 a.m.
A cloud of liquid oxygen vents out of a storage tank at the now deserted Space Launch Complex 41.
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