22 Sep 2005 Minotaur Launch
Photos Copyright ©2005 Mark C. DiVecchio

Here is a series of shots which I took of the Minotaur Launch. More at: http://spaceflightnow.com/minotaur/stpr1/

I've been on the mailing list "launch-alert" for quite a while. The list owner sends emails about pending launches from Vandenberg AFB. In Sep of 2005, I received an alert about an upcoming Minotaur launch scheduled for 22 Sep 2005.

We arrived at the viewing site, Lakeview Park, on the east end of Lake Miramar in San Diego, CA <google map link> with a clear view to the west.

I set up the tripod and the camera. I took a bunch of photos as the sun set. I let the camera pick some exposures and F-stop settings. Then I manually did a few adjustments to the settings. I just attempted to keep the sky a little bright with respect to the ground.

I had a shortwave radio tuned to WWV. I didn't really know how long from the predicted launch time that the rocket would be visible. I knew only from previous launches, the approximate track.

I aimed my camera and waited. The scheduled launch time passed.

My wife saw the trail first. I quickly aimed the camera to put the trail in the lower right hand corner of the frame and took a photo. Then at about 10 second intervals, I took this series of 4 shots.

It was mostly luck that I got the 2nd stage burn out and 3rd stage ignition all without moving the camera.

After these shots, I had to move the camera and I kept on clicking away. The plume of the 3rd stage exhaust grew very large. Then the 3rd stage shut down.

After that, you could not see the rocket any longer. I kept looking, though, and just as it started to reach the horizon, I saw the 4th stage ignition. It was just a point of light by then. I didn't get a photo, as it moved over the horizon too quickly.

The times are from the clock in my camera and are probably not correct. Useful for elasped time only. Per the Minotaur press release after the launch, the actual launch was 7:24:29 PM.

First, a series of four shots taken over about a 30 second period.

Camera Model Name     Canon PowerShot G2
Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:33:27 PM
Shooting Mode    Manual
Tv (Shutter Speed)    0.8
Av (Aperture Value)    2.5
Light Metering    Evaluative
ISO Speed    50
Focal Length    16.8mm

Shooting Date/Time     9/22/05 7:33:41 PM

Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:33:54 PM


From the Minotaur Guide, 3rd stage ignition is at approximately 130 seconds into the flight.
Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:34:09 PM

After these sequence of four, I moved the camera and zoomed in to keep up with the 3rd stage. Shutter and aperture settings unchanged.

Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:34:24 PM

Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:34:44 PM

Shooting Date/Time    9/22/05 7:34:59 PM

Read more about the Minotaur at:




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email :  markd@silogic.com

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