Rocket with a Space Force surveillance satellite may have created a hole in the ionosphere when it flew into space. The launch was completed in just 27 hours, which is a new record.
A rocket launching a U.S. Space Force satellite may have punched a hole in Earth’s upper atmosphere after taking off in just 27 hours — a new record for the shortest time from clearance to actual launch.
Firefly Aerospace, a Space Force partner, launched one of its Alpha rockets from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on September 14 at 10:28 p.m. local time. informs Space.com. The launch was not publicized or broadcast live, making it a complete surprise to the space exploration community.
The rocket was carrying the Space Force’s Victus Nox (Latin for “conquering the night”) satellite, which will perform a “space intelligence” mission to help the Space Force monitor what’s happening in orbit.
The surprise rocket first caught people’s attention after it created a huge exhaust plume that could be seen from a distance of more than 1,600 kilometers). But after the plume dissipated, a faint red glow remained in the sky, a sign that the rocket had created a hole in the ionosphere, the part of the Earth’s atmosphere where gases are ionized that extends between 80 and 645 km above the Earth’s surface. informs Spaceweather.com.