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10 historic images of rocket launches

smoke plumes from a space shuttle launch on Feb. 7, 2001

Photo: NASA/Patrick McCracken

8 of 11

A smoke plume into space

Pictured here are the smoke plumes from a space shuttle launch on Feb. 7, 2001. The top of the plume is brighter because it reflects the setting sun. The bright orb in the lower right is the moon reflecting the sun. Interestingly enough, the cone of shadow belongs to the moon as well. The plumes are made up of the leftover smoke and steam from the solid rocket boosters. NASA used two powerful solid rocket boosters on each space shuttle.  How powerful were they? As NASA shares, “each booster has a thrust of approximately 3,300,000 pounds at launch.”