SpaceX launches into stunning skies on fifth try, lands in Florida

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Update: SpaceX is now targeting no earlier than 4:51 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 2, for the Starlink launch mentioned below. Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A will host.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket finally broke a scrub streak Monday, vaulting an Earth observation satellite into skies so clear that the entire process from launch to landing back at Cape Canaveral was easily visible to watchers along the coast.

Two minutes after the 6:11 p.m. EST liftoff from Launch Complex 40, the 230-foot rocket’s first stage separated just downrange from the Cape. Thanks to the altitude and sun’s last rays over the horizon, ice crystals formed by the Merlin engines’ exhaust plumes were illuminated and formed what’s informally known as the “jellyfish effect.”

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