An unmanned rocket launched by NASA and headed for the moon was visible in the night sky off the south side of Martha's Vineyard late Friday night.
The five-stage Minotaur rocket blasted off from the Virginia coast Friday at 11:27 p.m., news accounts said.
This image of the rocket was captured from South Beach in Edgartown.
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environmental Explorer spacecraft, called LADEE, is designed to look for dust rising from the lunar surface. LADEE’s trip to the moon will last 30 days. The rocket’s first three stages are made from decommissioned missile parts, and the last two parts are commercially manufactured.
The rocket blasted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility. It is the first deep-space mission launched from the Virginia spaceport.
The $280 million space mission is expected to last about six months.
On a perfect night for stargazing, the rocket’s contrail moved against an inky night sky with starry background. The exposure of the photograph is four second long.
South Beach was empty save a small group of people watching the sight. “It’s going to the moon!” one exclaimed.