Sonic-boom UFO show! SpaceX launches satellite, lands rocket booster in California

Pablo Tucker
October 8, 2018

The private space exploration company launched its Falcon 9 rocket Sunday night, its 17th launch attempt of the year, as part of a joint mission to deploy the SAOCOM 1A satellite, an Argentinean earth-observation satellite.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Argentinian satellite has blasted off from California.

Still, Vandenberg Air Force Base had warned residents last week in nearby Lompoc and other Central California cities that they could hear "one or more" sonic booms associated with the landing of the first-stage booster.


SpaceX has flown boosters back to land after launches from Florida but has yet to do so in California.

In metro Phoenix, witnesses hit up social media with photos and videos of the peculiar streak of light and ghostlike images they saw. The spacecraft will set up shop 385 miles (620 kilometers) above Earth and scrutinize the planet using a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument. At the time, the launch was scheduled to occur from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean where SpaceX launched the now retired Falcon 1. Boosters are shorter-burning rocket motors/engines that are used alongside the main rockets to augment the space vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capacity during initial stage launch. Including Sunday's successful landing, SpaceX has returned 30 total boosters back to land or to a floating sea platform.

Saocom-1A has an L-band payload created to study soil moisture for agriculture, disaster monitoring and scientific research.


A lovely sky show following Falcon 9's launch.

Two minutes later, the second stage engine shut down as planned and two-and-a-half minutes after that, the SAOCOM 1A satellite was released into the planned polar orbit.


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