SpaceX West Coast launch to bring sonic booms to California

Pablo Tucker
October 8, 2018

Perhaps even more jaw-dropping than the Iridium-4 spectacle that caused quasi-hysteria throughout much of California, Falcon 9 B1048 and its upper stage companion created an extraordinary show as the booster the booster separated, flipped 180 degrees, and began its boostback burn directly into the plume of S2's Merlin Vacuum engine. "Nope, definitely not aliens", Garcetti wrote.

A Space X Falcon 9 rocket was set to take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California around 7:21 p.m.

It was SpaceX's 17th flight so far this year, the company's 44th successful launch in a row and the 63rd overall for the Falcon 9 family of rockets, including the February debut of its three-core Falcon Heavy rocket. The retro firings slowed the rocket down from supersonic speeds, setting off a sonic boom that could be heard in some areas (but not others).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket's first stage has landed back at its California launch site after carrying an Argentinian satellite into space.

Watch the moment the Falcon 9's booster landed right on the button on LZ-4. "This is fantastic news", SpaceX launch commentator Tom Praderio said. It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring.

Argentina's National Commission on Space Activities, or CONAE, will operate the two SAOCOM satellites in cooperation with the Italian Space Agency's COSMO-SkyMed radar satellites. "Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations".

It will be SpaceX's first time trying to land one of its reusable rockets on the West Coast.

SpaceX has also been experimenting with a procedure to save additional millions of dollars by retrieving the Falcon 9's fairing, or nose cone. It has previously made such landings on drone ships in the ocean.

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