October 08, 2018
People across Southern California, from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, were treated to a stunning light show moving across the darkened horizon on Sunday night.
But for all the UFO watchers out there, sorry. It was a planned launch by Hawthorne-based SpaceX.
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.
SpaceX was also aiming to land its Falcon 9 rocket after successful deployment of the satellite. It was SpaceX's first landing on the west coast and its 30th first stage landing overall.
The company said on social media it had been successful.
U.S. Air Force officials warned residents of multiple counties across the Golden State earlier this week that they might hear "one or more sonic booms" during the landing attempt.
On Twitter, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said it "wouldn't be subtle."
Both the launch and landing took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
About three minutes after launch, the rocket detached from the "second stage," including the satellite, stopped its forward momentum, and began to fall back toward the earth, according to SpaceX.
The company also confirmed that the satellite had entered low earth orbit.
SpaceX has been working with the U.S. government and on its own private ventures, which eventually could include private space travel, according to Musk, who also is the founder and CEO of the electric car company Tesla.
The company is contracting with NASA on several ventures and one of SpaceX's spacecraft was the first private spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station.
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