Photographer Shane Winter captured a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over the Old Bank District of downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, October 7, 2018, just after the 7:21 p.m. launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Winter tells Inverse he used a Panasonic GH4 camera atop a tripod on his roof in LA. First he set the camera’s built-in intervalometer to capture 600 frames per second. He then framed up the shot, set the exposure, focus, and white balance. Then it was time for the launch, which you see above.

“I tend to process through [auto exposure] as it’ll handle the [raw image format] sequence and gives me options for color over time and movement that I don’t get through image editors; the ‘camera move’ is framing shift done there,” he explains.

The result is a stunner. A version of the animation had received more than 51,000 upvotes on reddit on Monday. The most-upvoted comment? “If I had no clue that was happening and saw it in the sky I would be freaking out,” observed one redditor.

The SAOCOM 1 mission by SpaceX put two satellites into orbit for Argentina’s Space Agency, and the pair will primarily gather data about soil moisture information, according to a mission briefing released by SpaceX.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 after it returned to Earth.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 after it returned to Earth.

This was the first mission to utilize SpaceX’s new landing pad. The pad was under construction for around four years, with a slow process in part because the company didn’t need the pad before now. It’s the first one SpaceX has built on the west coast, and it will complement the droneship Just Read the Instructions for landing first stage boosters after missions from the Vandenberg Air Force Base. While it’s easier to collect rockets when they return to land, such landings require more fuel than sea-based missions, meaning SpaceX will likely choose the right tool for the mission depending on the circumstances.


With reporting by Mike Brown.