In a first for the West Coast, a Falcon 9 rocket's first stage landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday evening, touching down at Landing Zone 4 just a few hundred yards from the launch pad where the mission began.
The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency.
Unspent fuel from the rocket was illuminated by rays from the setting sun, making the contrail visible across wide areas of California. There's no specified launch window, and that could force SpaceX to move liftoff to October 11th if it has to scrub the launch on the 7th. Please let us know where you took the image.
"Sonic boom warning. This won't be subtle" advised SpaceX founder Elon Musk on his Twitter feed on Sunday.
This will mark the first time SpaceX has attempted a ground landing of the Falcon 9 on the West Coast.
The 30th Space Wing says residents may see multiple engine burns by the first stage and there may be one or more sonic booms. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors. The rocket plume is expected to be illuminated by the sun after the launch at 7:21 p.m. Sunday. The satellite is created to provide radar imagery to help emergency responders and monitor the environment, including the collection of soil moisture measurements.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM-1A Earth-observation satellite launches from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 7, 2018. The satellite is one of a planned six-satellite array.
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.