Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky

First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky

The rocket took just 12 minutes from take off before launching Argentina's SAOCOM 1A satellite (pdf).

This footage shows the rocket lighting up the sky above Los Angeles, California.

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SpaceX lit up the night sky in Southern California on Sunday, and sent gawkers from across the region craning their necks to the sight. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to laud his company's efforts, in what's become something of a routine for the outspoken billionaire. The company views ground-based rocket landings as better for expediting reuse, since drone ship landings require time to return to port.

SpaceX had previously flown first-stage rockets back to land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast. Pacific time. The launch was delayed one day for "pre-flight vehicle checkouts", SpaceX tweeted last week.

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The landing of the booster is part of efforts by the space transportation service to cut the cost of space launches by re-using rockets. Any rocket launch is exciting, but SpaceX's Falcon 9 has completed so many missions at this point that yet another satellite delivery is easy to overlook. For the uninformed, it caused doubts of alien invasion, but soon all the reasoning was out on social media.

The rocket launched Sunday around 7:20 p.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, taking Argentine satellite SAOCOM 1A into the sky. It carries carries a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar to be used for emergency management and land monitoring, The Associated Press reported.

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"SAOCOM" is short for "Satélite Argentino de Observación Con Microondas", which is Spanish for "Argentine Microwave-Observation Satellite".

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