At 11:27 p.m. Friday night, a five-stage Minotaur V rocket carrying LADEE lifted off from the NASA flight facility on Wallops Island, Va. Before its trip to our lunar neighbor, it put on quite a show across the northeast United States.

As Blaine Friedlander detailed yesterday, “LADEE — or the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer — will orbit Earth then cruise to the moon, where it will gather data on the lunar atmosphere and to see whether dust is lofted into moon’s sky.”

Conditions were perfect for a launch. Clear skies, cool temps and great visibility.

Kevin Ambrose and I met up at the Marine Corps Memorial after discussing a few options, and we were instantly greeted by no lights on the memorial. After some last minute scrambling, we each decided on different spots close by.

In addition to our shots, we gathered some photos of the launch from around the Mid-Atlantic, via social media (Twitter and Facebook). It was truly an amazing sight for many along the East Coast.

And probably one of the most visually stunning shots of the launch, from the LADEE Flickr group set up by NASA:


NASAtelevision video of LADEE launch from Wallops Island, Va.

CWG reader Paul Connolly shared his view from Ocean City, Md.

The LADEE Rocket over the NYC Skyline, from pfideo.

LADEE launch, as seen from Alexandria, VA via Joshua Turcotte

LADEE will take about 30 days to reach the moon, before entering a 30-day lunar orbit phase. After that, the scientific operations phase is expected to last about 100 days.

Find out more about LADEE on the NASA web site, and check out the handy infographic with some key details.