Saturday, 20 October, 2018

San Diegans photograph Sunday night's launch of Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg

‘This won’t be subtle’: SpaceX West Coast launch will create sonic boom First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky
Theresa Hayes | 08 October, 2018, 06:25

Southern California residents are being warned to expect a large sonic boom Sunday evening as SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, then attempts its first-ever landing on the West Coast, according to the company and military officials.

SpaceX has flown boosters back to land after launches from Florida but has yet to do so in California.

In keeping with that vision, tonight marked the second flight for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, which also helped loft 10 Iridium Next commercial communications satellites from Vandenberg on July 25.

The primary goal of Sunday's mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also successfully sent a first stage booster back to Vandenberg Air Force Base for the first time. The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX's landing zone, not far from the launch pad.

As The Verge noted, SpaceX hasn't been making sea landings by choice. It's landing on terra firma after successfully obtaining a license for the pad this summer.

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. It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring.

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