Snowy white clouds began to swarm the launch site as NASA's moon rocket ignited in the pitch-black.
Like a smoke bomb being thrown against a stage for a magician's disappearing performance, the plumes billowed and continued to cling to the air long after the spaceship had vanished from view.
According to Nate Perkins, an engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne, which made the propulsion system strapped to the bottom of the rocket,
calling these enigmatic clouds "smoke" would be a bit of a misnomer. The four main engines, which don't emit soot or carbon, are responsible for the majority of the plumes.
They simply result from a chemical reaction that takes place when liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen heat up, collide, and ignite.
Do you recall learning in science class in elementary school what happens when you mix oxygen with a few hydrogen atoms?