Lighting up the night

On a night already resplendent with celestial wonders, a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket added another spectacle to the sky Friday evening with a fiery ascent from the Florida coastline to an orbit stretching 41,000 miles above Earth.

The 217-foot-tall rocket launched from Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:27 p.m. EDT Friday (0027 GMT Saturday). Forty-one minutes later, the Delta 4's hydrogen-fueled upper stage deployed a $342 million communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

These photos were taken about 3 miles north of the launch pad.

See our Mission Status Center for the latest news on the launch.

Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

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