Pre-dawn satellite launch puts on stunning show in sky

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The view from Ballast Point in South Tampa, courtesy Josh Herrington.

An Atlas V rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just before sunrise Friday morning, leaving a stunning display in the sky.

After a brief delay, the rocket, weighing over 1 million pounds, had a successful liftoff at 6:28 a.m.

It was originally set to launch at 6:08 a.m., but a boat spotted in the debris-falling range caused a 20 minute delay. 

The rocket was carrying Mexico's Morelos-3 spacecraft, a communications satellite expected to help with internet data, voice, and education programs, as well as provide secure communications to Mexico's National Security. 

As officials predicted, it was bright  in the pre-dawn sky.

Bay Area residents shared several photos of the swirling contrail that left an eye-catching glow in the pre-dawn eastern sky. The display was caused by ice crystals in the rocket's exhaust that were high enough in the atmosphere to catch sunlight.