Coriolis launch observed

From: Bradley P. Allen (
Date: Mon Jan 06 2003 - 09:49:10 EST

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    I was able to observe the Titan II/Coriolis launch from Vandenberg this
    morning from my front porch in Manhattan Beach in nautical twilight. As
    the rocket cleared my horizon, in 15x45 binoculars it looked like a dim
    version of a Delta II launch. But then first stage separation was a very
    bright burst of orange, followed by the emergence of an expanding cloud
    of many tens of debris fragments surrounding the first stage, which was
    embedded in a smaller cloud of fuel that warpped around the stage as it
    continued to ascend. A minute later, payload fairing separation from the
    second stage was clearly seen, with the tumbling fairings forming an
    equilateral triangle varying from mag 1 to 3. Second stage was at this
    point mag 1 and the booster and debris cloud mag 2 to 3, with the debris
    cloud surrounding the first stage about 5 degrees in extent. This
    procession slowly dimmed until I lost the objects behind my neighbors'
    house after about 5 minutes. Very glad to have finally seen a Titan II
    launch from VAFB, it was a very different visual experience from the
    usual Delta or Minuteman launch.
    Bradley P. Allen
    N 33.881 W 118.388 42 meters
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