SpaceX Rocket Launch
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Watch this incredible footage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch as seen from a passenger jet flying over the launch pad

“One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen”

Watching the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch is exciting, but experiencing it from a window seat on a United Airlines aircraft, 30,000 feet in the air, is much more exciting.

On November 26, 2022, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Yesterday, astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA were able to successfully catch the Dragon spacecraft by making use of a robotic arm that was attached to the International Space Station.

Nick Leimbach, a passenger on United Airlines, was able to see the Falcon 9 launch from his window seat, which is the aviation-related aspect of this story. On Saturday, Leimbach was traveling on UA220 from Washington Dulles to Grand Cayman.

He captured the following footage while flying over Florida:


At 2:20 p.m. local time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket took off from Launch Complex 39A with an unmanned Dragon spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station.

A little piece of equipment called the Moon Microscope enables astronauts to collect and examine blood samples. In the future, their main objective will be to provide astronauts with a tool for blood analysis on the surface of the moon or Mars.

On commercial aircraft, passengers seldom see something like this. Given Leimbach’s area of business, there is a fair likelihood that his presence at the right time wasn’t purely accidental.

Perfect Time and Place

At 12:25 pm, the plane departed from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, and touched down about 3.5 hours later in George Town, Cayman Islands.

At the ideal time, its flight path exactly intersected NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. At 2:20 p.m. local time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted out from Launch Complex 39A with an unmanned Dragon spacecraft hauling supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

The Moon Microscope, a small tool that enables astronauts to gather blood samples and analyze them using a hand-held gadget, is one of the supplies.

The hope is that one day astronauts will be able to use this device to analyze blood samples on the lunar or martian surface.

It is unusual for passengers on a commercial aircraft to see such a breathtaking sight. Although there’s a strong probability that Leimbach’s being at the right place at the right time wasn’t just a coincidence considering his line of work.

With inputs from Futurism & WonderfulEngineering

What do you think?

Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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