In 2012, when the space shuttle Discovery flew above Washington, D.C., on its way to retirement at the National Air and Space Museum, a reporter asked astronaut Anna Fisher if she had any advice for a boy who wanted to travel to the stars. Sure, Fisher said. “Study Russian.”

I hope this young man caught a glimpse of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launch on Tuesday, because he might not have to study Russian after all. Twenty-seven engines generated more than 5 million pounds of thrust—the equivalent, says SpaceX, of “approximately eighteen 747 aircraft”—and propelled a 140,000-pound payload into low earth orbit.

The blast was incredible: an arc of flame and steam reaching for the heavens. But even that was not the most amazing image of the day.

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