A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday evening.
The launch window opened at 7:10 p.m. and it successfully blasted off right on schedule. It is the 13th launch of the year.
Spectators gathered hours ahead to get a view of the sky lighting up.
“From around 3 o’clock this afternoon we’ve been waiting for this,” spectator Norbert Velez said. “Great moment.”
“It’s fabulous,” said Annette Raitz, another launch spectator. “We’re from Minnesota. We don’t have this. It’s so exciting and so rewarding.”
The rocket will send a communication satellite into orbit that will provide service for Japan and parts of southeast Asia.
"This is something that, actually, people use every day because it transmits your TV signals on the cable, transmits your internet on your phone and your laptop," said Dr. Ken Kremer with spaceupclose.com.
The first-stage booster landed on a drone ship about 400 miles offshore.
The cloud that moved in at launch time provided some peek-a-boo moments for the rocket as onlookers saw it shoot between holes in the clouds.
“Night launches are always, always much better than day launches ... because you can see them more. The sky lights up. It was just too bad it was cloudy,” said Anita Gallant, a launch spectator.
In addition to getting the rocket launch, SpaceX also hoped to recover both halves of the rocket’s nose cone fairing, which protects the cargo.
The pieces were supposed to find their way back to the drone ships but narrowly missed. The company plans to recover what’s left and reuse it, if possible.
Monday’s launch comes ahead of Friday’s scheduled launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. That launch was delayed after the discovery of an issue with the Atlas V rocket that will power the mission.
You can catch each launch live on WFTV's Facebook page.
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