First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky

Gwen Vasquez
October 8, 2018

The primary objective of Sunday's mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also successfully sent a first stage booster back to the base for the first time.

Below are some photos we were sent by viewers Sunday night.

The launch, employing the upgraded Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket, remained scheduled for 7:21 p.m.

Such sights and sounds are familiar to residents near the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida where SpaceX first landed a Falcon 9 booster in December 2015. "What you're looking at is the first launch and landing of the @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast".

"Sonic boom warning. This won't be subtle" advised SpaceX founder Elon Musk on his Twitter feed on Sunday. This will be SpaceX's first landing attempt on the ground at Vandenberg.

SpaceX has also been experimenting with a procedure to save additional millions of dollars by retrieving the Falcon 9's fairing, or nose cone.

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Land landings aren't threatened by storms like ocean landings are, and they also allow SpaceX to refurbish the boosters faster, as they don't need to be recovered from sea.

If anything goes wrong during the launch and landing, there is a risk of explosion.

The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and will work in conjunction with a constellation of Italian space agency satellites.

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

SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring.

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