SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch gave California residents another scare

Olive Hawkins
October 8, 2018

Three readers reported seeing an unusual light in the southern skies. Previous rocket landings had taken place on the East Coast.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage returned to land at SpaceX's Landing Zone back at the base.

The light as viewed from Four Corners in the Briceland area.

When SpaceX launched a rocket carrying an Argentine Earth-observation satellite from California, both the night sky and social media lit up.

If the mission goes according to plan, Sunday night will mark SpaceX's first landing of this sort on the West Coast.

SpaceX has previously launched a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg and landed it offshore in the Pacific Ocean aboard a droneship.

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The 3,500-lb. (1,600 kilograms) SAOCOM-1A satellite was developed by Argentina's national space agency, which is known by its Spanish acronym CONAE.

Falcon 9 B1048 streaks into a clear California sky with SAOCOM 1A. SpaceX's landing record now stands at 30 successful booster recoveries, 11 at Cape Canaveral, one at Vandenberg and 18 on droneships.

Saocom-1A has an L-band payload created to study soil moisture for agriculture, disaster monitoring and scientific research. SpaceX has several other missions planned for this year, including the Falcon 9 launches of another 10 Iridium Next satellites, Es'hailSat's Es'hail-2, and the U.S. Air Force's first GPS-3 satellite.

SAOCOM 1A 3,000-kilogram satellite built by INVAP and this deployment was done in conjunction with Argentina's space agency with the goal of radar-imaging the earth.

Known as plume interaction, the phenomena has been known to produce extraordinary visual effects and the launch of SAOCOM 1A was certainly no exception.

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