SpaceX’s successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket and satellite into orbit Sunday evening from Vandenberg Air Force Base and also safely landed the ship’s rocket booster back to Earth.
The lift-off came at its scheduled time of 7:21 p.m. SpaceX also successfully handled a separation of the rocket stages in flight. SpaceX plans to land the rocket booster 100 miles west of Los Angeles. Its exact landing spot or time of landing was not immediately available.
“Sonic boom warning. This won’t be subtle” advised SpaceX founder Elon Musk on his Twitter feed at midday Sunday.
Booms from the Falcon 9 booster’s re-entry into the atmosphere were predicted to shake the Pacific Coast as far southeast as Ventura County.
It marks the first time SpaceX attempted and completed a ground landing of the Falcon 9 on the West Coast. Previous recapture missions from Vandenberg have landed the rocket on a barge floating in the Pacific Ocean, about 400 miles out to sea.
The company has landed rockets on the ground before, but always at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The launch employed the upgraded Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket. The Block 5 is considered more durable than previous Falcon 9 varieties, capable of flying as many as 10 missions.
The rocket being used in Sunday’s mission was previously employed in a June launch.
Air Force officials have issued a warning that residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties could potentially hear one or more sonic booms due to the launch.
The mission created a spectacular light show visible across the Southland, witnesses reported.
The rocket was carrying an Argentine Earth-observing satellite, known as SAOCOM-1A, into orbit. The satellite is one of a planned six-satellite array.