Space force

These Atlas V Space Force rocket launch photos and videos are simply epic

Feel the powerful glow of a rocket launch in these incredible photos and videos.

One of the major military rocket launches earlier this month received a huge boost in imagery from the US Space Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The incredible photos show the roar of the ULA Atlas V rocket as it fired a new military satellite into orbit on August 4. The satellite, known as SBIRS GEO-6, is the sixth and final spacecraft launched to form a constellation that will detect and track missiles known as the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit program.

Space Force images below show the powerful rocket creating an artificial sunrise at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. You can see the heavyweight Atlas V glow in the reflection of the water surrounding the launch facility, then create a funnel-shaped plume as it rises high into Earth’s atmosphere.

Related: The most dangerous space weapons of all time

An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO-6 flies through clouds on August 4, 2022. (Image credit: US Space Force photo by Joshua Conti)

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The sunrise launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying SBIRS GEO-6 on August 4, 2022 created a haunting glow in the water at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (Image credit: US Space Force photo by Joshua Conti)

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A general view of the plume from the SBIRS GEO-6 rocket in the moments after launch on August 4, 2022. (Image credit: US Space Force photo by Joshua Conti)

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ULA also had fun hosting videos and photos from both the official site and its CEO, Tory Bruno. “Looking into the maw of rocket exhaust glory,” Bruno said in a tweet showing a scary closeup of the rocket taking off from the pad.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched this morning (August 4) the sixth Space Infrared System geosynchronous Earth-orbiting satellite (SBIRS GEO-6). (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

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SBIRS GEO-6 is being commissioned to work alongside five other satellites in geostationary orbit, about 100 times higher than that of the International Space Station.

Working together 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth, each satellite is spaced in a lane to achieve wide coverage of our planet. The newest member of the fleet includes “infrared surveillance to support missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence,” according to an SSC press release. (opens in a new tab). “Infrared monitoring” means monitoring the thermal signatures associated with a glowing rocket launch.

This latest launch completes a series of satellites that began launching in 2011. A next-generation missile detection system is also already in the works.

These detection systems are becoming paramount now that new classes of weapons are being developed by the United States and its rival peers. The Space Force, DARPA and the US military are working on hypersonic weapons systems, i.e. those that can exceed five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), as well as a new network of satellites to detect weapons launched from non-allied countries.

An example of what Americans face is the Kinzhal Missile announced by Russian state media in 2018, which Russians claim can fly five times faster than the speed of sound. The speed and maneuverability of these weapons require new methods to detect and track them after launch.

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