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A Rocket Launch So Amazing That It Caused A Three-Car Pileup On The Highway

Screen shot from YouTube video uploaded by Mark Sales. See his original video shared in the story below.

Woops! Some sky gawkers were so captivated by the launch that they forgot to pay to their driving…

The rocket and its smoke contrail drew the eyes and imaginations of millions upward into the twilight skies.  Millions of people stopped what they were doing for a few moments to look up into the sky.  Holiday travelers stared out car of windows in bumper to bumper traffic, there was even one accident on the I-10 that was associated with the riveting display. (The accident occurs at 1:16 into the video).

Incredible sight ripped across the skies of Southern California and Arizona just a couple days before Christmas.  The show in the night sky was created by the launch of a two stage SpaceX Falcon9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The combination of twilight and created an unexpectedly stunning display because as the rocket gained altitude the exhaust plume was illuminated by sunlight creating a spectacular sight in the night sky.  The rocket was launched to the South over the Pacific, giving the city of Los Angeles and most of Southern California a front row seat.

Why was the evening launch so visible?

This video explains the launch sequence and the science behind the rocket trail.

The above video was produced by photographer Jesse Wilson who is a SpaceX enthusiast.  He was tracking the launch ahead of time and unlike the millions of Southern California viewers who were caught by surprise Wilson setup his equipment in and multiple cameras in Yuma, AZ to shoot the launch.

BONUS: Here’s one of the highest quality videos we’ve seen of the launch.

The Falcon9 carried 10 satellites for the Iridium constellation from California into space.  Avgeekery is already anticipating this month’s launch of the Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral, FL.

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Joe Vaeth

Written by Joe Vaeth

Joe Vaeth is a life-long fan of all things aviation. Currently an airline pilot, his background includes over 10 years of flying C-130s for the U.S. Air Force and glider flying along the front range of the Colorado Rockies. He resides in Southern California with his wife and three children and has recently taken up cider brewing. He also enjoys, bike riding, kite flying & aerial photography.

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