The company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. But that's possible only when launching relatively light payloads to not-too-distant orbits; on other missions, there's not enough fuel left for the Falcon 9 first stage to maneuver all the way back to land. Residents in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear sonic booms.
SpaceX on Sunday successfully launched its first West Coast satellite.
SpaceX used the same first stage for the Saocom-1A mission that launched 10 satellites for Iridium about 10-and-a-half weeks ago, also from Vandenberg.
But many were taken by surprise when the launch illuminated the sky, wondering what the otherworldly looking sight was.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Argentinian satellite has blasted off from California.
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Part of a two-satellite system operated by Argentina's National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE), SAOCOM 1A uses synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to monitor Earth. Pacific time. The launch was delayed one day for "pre-flight vehicle checkouts", SpaceX tweeted last week.
The rocket lifted off at about 7:21 p.m. local time, and landed about 12 minutes later after delivering its package to orbit.
Despite repeated warnings during the week in the build-up to the launch, it appears many residents in California didn't get the memo. The mission's main goal is to collect soil moisture information.
The launch also looked just as stunning in video. The launch marked the 30th successful landing of a rocket booster, according to the company.
SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year.