Usually, when you’re cruising on an airplane, it’s a pretty safe bet that there’s not going to be anything higher than you — unless, of course, you fly by a rocket launch. A Redditor, Nobilitie, shared such a video of an Atlas V Rocket soaring past a plane window over Florida.
The rocket is believed to belong to United Launch Alliance, which successfully launched a 20-story Atlas V at 2:13 p.m. on Sunday, December 18. It took only 32 minutes for the rocket to reach its designated altitude, and it deployed a high-speed internet satellite weighing nearly eight tons. Sometime early in the flight, the lucky plane passengers were able to gaze at the rocket’s magnificent trail (or the people on one side of the plane, at least).
While some Redditors talked doomsday scenarios, imagining that the rocket was actually headed for the plane, more astute commenters were able to discern the rocket’s type based off of the trail — a telltale sign that the rocket probably had a solid rocket booster.
“SRBs let off a lot of ‘smoke’ compared to the engines,” Redditor Willkm wrote. “The arc is because the rocket needs to turn to eventually move tangent to the Earth’s surface to achieve orbit.”
Some other users have made (what are hopefully) jokes that the rocket trail is a chemtrail. So it bears mentioning at this point that chemtrails aren’t real.
And, just in case you were wondering, there are airspace restrictions during rocket launches, so the plane was safe. There’s no way a scheduled rocket launch is going to cream a plane by accident.