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Emily LakdawallaJuly 19, 2013

Pretty picture: An Atlas launch and a very surprised bird

If you take hundreds of photos of every single spacecraft launch you can get to, you will eventually get lucky shots like this one. It was taken by Ben Cooper at today's launch of the U.S. Navy satellite MUOS-2 and features a very surprised turkey vulture in a striking pose in front of the American flag. Ben's comment: "Too bad it wasn't an eagle!"

Atlas 5 launches MUOS-2

Ben Cooper / launchphotography.com

Atlas 5 launches MUOS-2
On July 19, 2013, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launches in its most powerful configuration, the 551 with five solid rocket boosters and a large five-meter extended-length payload fairing, to put the second Mobile User Objective System satellite into space for the US Navy. A (no doubt very surprised) turkey vulture was caught in mid-flight in front of the American flag on the launch tower.

Visit launchphotography.com for more shots of the MUOS-2 launch (and nearly every other American launch).

Read more: pretty pictures, rockets

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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