SpaceX Aces First-Ever Rocket Landing in California After Spectacular Satellite Launch

A graphic explaining sonic booms provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base ahead of a planned SpaceX launch on Oct. 7 2018

The company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.

The 3,500-lb. (1,600 kilograms) SAOCOM-1A satellite was developed by Argentina's national space agency, which is known by its Spanish acronym CONAE.

The Union-Tribune was soon flooded with photos that came in from such places as San Diego International Airport, Point Loma Nazarene University, Otay Ranch in Chula Vista, the coastal area of Encinitas, and from people in Tijuana.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket as seen from the North Coast.

SpaceX has previously landed first stage rockets on land after Florida launches but has not done so on the West Coast. Once again, the light is from a SpaceX launch.

Local residents may see the first stage of the Falcon 9 returning to Vandenberg AFB, including multiple engine burns associated with the landing.

SpaceX inaugurated its West Coast rocket-landing pad in style.

By the way: SpaceX would like to land every booster on terra firma, to ease the reflight process. By that year the launch had slipped to 2014, and would continue to slip further as Falcon 9 explosions in 2015 and 2016 compounded earlier delays.

Viewers took to social media to speculate on the rocket, which was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The SAOCOM 1 mission aims to study soil moisture using synthetic-aperture radar readings from two identical satellites in low Earth orbit, SAOCOM 1A and 1B. The mission will also help planners and emergency-management officials keep tabs on wildfires, floods and other disasters. The satellite, Saocom-1A, separated from the launcher's upper stage about 13 minutes later. "Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations".

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