SpaceX also has successfully landed Falcon 9 first stages on so-called drone ships off the coasts of Florida and California, all as part of its effort to decrease the cost of space launches by reusing rockets rather than allowing them to fall into the ocean.
Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage will return to land at SpaceX's Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
SpaceX used the same first stage for the Saocom-1A mission that launched 10 satellites for Iridium about 10-and-a-half weeks ago, also from Vandenberg.
If the mission goes according to plan, Sunday night will mark SpaceX's first landing of this sort on the West Coast.
In metro Phoenix, witnesses hit up social media with photos and videos of the peculiar streak of light and ghostlike images they saw. Residents in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear sonic booms.
After a trouble-free countdown, the two-stage rocket blasted off right on time at 7:21 p.m. PT from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, leaving a post-sunset contrail glowing in the cloudless skies above.
First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket as seen from the North Coast.
Minutes after launch, the rocket's second stage separated from the first-stage booster and continued rising spaceward.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch on Sunday evening. The rocket will carry the Argentinian SOACOM 1A radar mapping satellite.
SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year.
The reusable booster assembly makes the use of rockets more affordable for a wide range of customers across the globe. It was the 30th successful landing for SpaceX out of 62 total launches and the 12th on land. "Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations". Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.
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