No. That wasn’t an alien invasion. And no, you hadn’t been drinking too much or smoking too much weed. What you were seeing in the sky Sunday night was the successful launch into orbit by SpaceX of a Falcon 9 rocket and satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base (the rocket booster also safely landed back on Earth), the first time the futuristic firm has done so on the West Coast.
Chris Garlington of WeHo Studio captured a view of the launch from West Hollywood and graciously is sharing it on YouTube with WEHOville readers.
The lift-off came at its scheduled time of 7:21 p.m. SpaceX then successfully handled the launching of an Argentine satellite after setting off a colorful pyrotechnic display as its rocket stages separated.
For an encore, the rocket’s first stage booster floated earthward and stuck its landing in the center of LZ-4, SpaceX’s new landing pad at Vandenberg.
“Sonic boom warning. This won’t be subtle” advised SpaceX founder Elon Musk on his Twitter feed at midday Sunday.
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 previously has landed rockets on the ground, 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 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 flight.
The rocket was carrying into orbit an Argentine Earth-observing satellite, known as SAOCOM-1A. The satellite is one of a planned six-satellite array.