Photographer Captures Award-Winning Falcon Heavy Photobombing the Moon

Imagine a powerful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket soaring skyward, momentarily eclipsing the moon in a celestial dance. Now, picture capturing that fleeting moment in a stunning photograph. That's exactly what photographer Pascal Fouquet from Orlando, Florida, achieved, and his incredible shot has earned him the prestigious title of the United States' National Award first place winner for the Sony World Photography Awards 2024.

The Sony World Photography Awards, a collaboration between Sony and the World Photography Organization, is a highly competitive program attracting hundreds of thousands of entries worldwide.  But Fouquet's image transcended the competition.

The winning shot wasn't a stroke of pure luck. It involved meticulous planning and lightning-fast reflexes.  With just 48 hours' notice before the launch that sent the X-37B spaceplane on its USSF-52 mission, Fouquet scrambled to find the perfect vantage point. "Scouting for an ideal location proved challenging," he shared with in an email.  "Ultimately, I settled on a somewhat unconventional choice – an open field behind a hospice center 13.8 miles away from the launch pad."

The key to capturing the scene, Fouquet explained, was prioritizing the moon's details over the rocket's brilliance. Using a Nikon D850, he employed a rapid shutter speed of 1/1600th of a second, freezing the precise moment the Falcon Heavy streaked across the lunar surface.

This wasn't just any launch; it marked the seventh mission for the enigmatic Space Force X-37B. The secretive spacecraft remains in orbit, even after shattering its own endurance record with a staggering 908-day mission on its previous outing.

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