SpaceX’s Rocket Blows Smoke Rings At 1,464 Km/h In Rare & Breathtaking Visuals!

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A clear smoke ring visible as the Falcon 9 races to orbit faster than the speed of sound. Image: SpaceX/YouTube

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A Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket provided viewers with breathtaking visuals as it soared to the skies from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to launch yet another batch of Starlink internet satellites to orbit. The Falcon 9 cut through the clouds at night, and just as it reached the speed of sound, the exhaust vapor from its nine Merlin 1D engines blew apart the surrounding cloud vapor to form what can only be described as vapor rings. The launch was the rocket's third flight to date, and SpaceX proceeded with another launch yesterday that saw it reuse a different booster for the tenth time - demonstrating once again the excellent track record of the world's only reusable medium-lift rocket.

SpaceX Maintains Rapid Launch Cadence For Falcon 9 As It Simultaneously Builds Its Largest Rocket To Date

The launch on Tuesday was SpaceX's 55th Starlink launch to date and it saw the company put a batch of 52 Starlink satellites in space. Starlink is the world's largest satellite constellation, and it forms the bulk of SpaceX's Falcon 9 missions. It also marked the 35th Falcon 9 mission for the year, ensuring that SpaceX is on track to maintain a launch cadence of an average of one launch per week.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket uses nine Merlin 1D engines for thrust, and they use Rocket Propellant 1 (RP-1) as its fuel and liquid Oxygen as the oxidizer. The combustion of these two inside the engines' combustion chamber results in it emitting a vapor that is made up mostly of carbon dioxide.

Courtesy of these engines, the Falcon 9 is capable of reaching an eye-popping speed of 1,207 kilometers per hour within a minute of liftoff. This time around, the rocket once again reached the speed of sound (1,234 km/h) a couple of seconds over the one-minute mark, and at the same time, it also flew threw the clouds and provided viewers with rare visuals of generating vapor - or smoke - rings.

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The launch also lit up the Florida night sky and within minutes of launching, the curvature of Earth was visible as the rocket made its way to orbit, Courtesy of Starlink which is now also consistently present on SpaceX's drone ships, the first stage booster's fourth landing was also broadcast in high definition in what just might be SpaceX's clearest landing footage to date.

A nighttime view always makes for spectacular visuals and another one of these came just around the two-second mark as the rocket's nine engines were throttled down beyond the Max-Q point and towards the main engine cutoff (MECO). The throttling down - an exclusive feature of liquid-powered engines - resulted in a gradual decrease of its thrust and alongside it a toning down of the bright yellow flame plume to a red haze.

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The launch on Tuesday was followed by another one just three days later on Friday, but this time from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. As opposed to the Florida launch, this launch was in broad daylight and it saw uncharacteristically large plumes of liquid Oxygen being vented from the Falcon 9's transporter erector structure that lasted for close to forty seconds prior to launch.

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The Falcon 9

As it launches and lands the Falcon 9s in quick succession, SpaceX is also busy building its Starship rocket in Boca Chica, Texas. The company is aiming to conduct an orbital test flight of the rocket soon, and after surprising single-engine small and full-duration static fire tests earlier this week, it is busy installing 13 more engines on the Super Heavy Booster 7, as it prepares for what just might be its largest static fire to date.

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