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SpaceX plans Vandenberg satellite launch Sunday evening may create sonic boom

08 October 2018

Vandenberg has warned people in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties that they might hear multiple sonic booms as the Falcon 9's first stage touches down at the base's Landing Zone 4.

The launch is scheduled for shortly after 7:20 p.m., Vandenberg Air Force base officials said in an advisory.

The twilight launch created a spectacular sight in the night sky for spectators in Southern California, who took to Twitter to share their awesome photos.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket as seen from the North Coast.

SpaceX has just successfully landed its first rocket on the U.S. West Coast. The rocket's previously flown first stage then flipped around and returned to the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site, chalking up SpaceX's first West Coast landing.

But Sunday's flight marked the first time SpaceX attempted a landing at Vandenberg, a milestone made possible by extensive environmental and safety studies that concluded the noise and possible aftermath of a failure would not cause any significant damage or harm to area wildlife.

"Sonic boom warning. This won't be subtle" advised SpaceX founder Elon Musk on his Twitter feed on Sunday.

SpaceX has also been experimenting with a procedure to save additional millions of dollars by retrieving the Falcon 9's fairing, or nose cone.

The launch of the satellite, SAOCOM 1A, is being conducted for Argentina's space agency. It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring. "Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations".

SpaceX plans Vandenberg satellite launch Sunday evening may create sonic boom