Billows of smoke and steam infused with the fiery light from space shuttle Endeavour's launch on the STS-127 mission fill NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A on July 15, 2009. NASA/Sandra Joseph, Kevin O'Connell
Trailing a thick column of exhaust, the Space Shuttle Columbia blasted into the twilight morning sky in 2002, its thundering rockets briefly flooding a cloud bank with the light of a false dawn. The event marked the start of the ongoing eleven day mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle would later be burned up on re-entry in a tragic 2003 accident, killing all seven of its crew. KSC/NASA
A seven-year journey to the ringed planet Saturn begins with the liftoff of a Titan IVB/Centaur carrying the Cassini orbiter and its attached Huygens probe. This spectacular streak shot was taken from Hangar AF on Cape Canaveral Air Station, with a solid rocket booster retrieval ship in the foreground. NASA/JPL-Caltech
In this Sept. 25 photo, a Minotaur 4 rocket carrying the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite blasts off and heads toward orbit at 9:41 p.m., at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The satellite is designed to detect and monitor debris, satellites and other space objects that could be a threat to national security, communications and weather satellites. Andrew Lee/US Air Force/AP
Nearly enveloped by the smoke after ignition, the Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Dawn spacecraft rises from the smoke and fire on the launch pad in 2007 to begin its 1.7-billion-mile journey through the inner solar system to study a pair of asteroids. NASA/Sandra Joseph & Rafael Hernandez
A Japanese H-2A rocket, carrying the global positioning satellite Michibiki, blasts off into space from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan on Sept. 11. Photo was taken with a fish-eye lens and three-minute exposure time. Kyodo/Reuters
The British fired Congreve rockets against the United States in the War of 1812. As a result Francis Scott Key coined the phrase the 'rocket's red glare.' Congreve had used a 16-foot guide stick to help stabilize his rocket. William Hale, another British inventor, invented the stickless rocket in 1846. The US Army used the Hale rocket more than 100 years ago in the war with Mexico. Rockets were also used to a limited extent by both sides in the American Civil War. NASA
This aerial view of the STS-2 Columbia launch from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, was taken by astronaut John Young aboard NASA's Shuttle Training Aircraft in 1981. NASA
This artist's rendering illustrates one possible sample return mission concept. In this concept, a spacecraft would carry two or more miniature rovers to Mars, where the vehicles would rove independently, collecting soil and rock samples which would then be returned to the mothership. The sample return spacecraft would be able to blast off the surface of Mars, as seen here, carrying the soil samples, and rendezvous with an orbiter circling Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech
Just one minute before midnight EDT, Friday, August 28, 2009, the Space Shuttle Discovery began a long arc into a cloudy sky. Following the launch, a bright and remarkably colorful trail was captured in this time exposure from the Banana River Viewing Site, looking east toward pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe threw himself a lavish million-dollar party to celebrate his birthday. A divisive figure, some call Mugabe a dictator, while supporters say he is a nationalist hero.
ByPhilimon Bulawayo, Reuters
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 91st birthday with a lavish party by the spectacular Victoria Falls on Saturday, prompting many Zimbabweans to question once again when he would leave office and who would succeed him.