|Occurred : 7/5/2017 19:32 (Entered as : 07/05/17 19:32)
Reported: 7/5/2017 6:52:21 PM 18:52
Location: Orlando, FL
|Very bright white light following a southern trajectory seen 5 minutes prior to Falcon-9 launch from Cape Canaveral
I was heading out to my front porch, here in East Orlando, about 5 minutes prior to a Space-X Falcon-9 launch of the Intelsat 35e. I am about 37-miles west of the Space X complex at Cape Canaveral, and can see the rockets quite clearly when they launch. As I went out the door, facing east, I noticed a very bright light to the northeast rising upward, about a third of the way off the horizon, initially almost exactly the same speed and curved trajectory a rocket launch would follow to the southeast. I was upset because I thought I had missed the initial launch. I tried to shoot a digital movie of the bright light, but it did not come out as far as I can see. I visually followed the light as it climbed and got smaller and smaller, finally vanishing at high altitude. I was puzzled because the light was an intense white color, and usually rockets at low altitude display a bright orange flame, as I was thinking I had been watching the Falcon-9 launch, and I’ve seen many launches from the Cape over the last 10-years, and what I thought was the launch just didn’t add up.
A few minutes later, a 7:37 pm (1937 hours) I saw the bright orange flame of the Falcon-9 booster appear just to the southwest, as it climbed and started to leave a contrail as it went into the upper atmosphere. What really puzzled me, is that I had the impression that the bright light seen a few minutes earlier had been moving a whole lot faster than the rocket after it gained some altitude, I’d say about 4-times faster. I know they prohibit aircraft in the immediate launch area, and the bright light flew directly through it only a few minutes prior to the actual launch. I thought maybe an Air Force jet had left the skid strip on afterburner or something, but I was in the Air Force and never saw an afterburner as bright as that. It was odd, because I really thought I had been watching the launch, and only after I saw the actual launch did I find the whole episode strange.