Space

California love: SpaceX launches and lands its first rocket on the West Coast

California love: SpaceX launch...
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster heads for orbit
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster heads for orbit
Recovered Falcon 9 booster stands safely on Californian soil
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Recovered Falcon 9 booster stands safely on Californian soil
A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
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A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
Recovered Falcon 9 booster stands safely on Californian soil
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Recovered Falcon 9 booster stands safely on Californian soil
LA mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted the following image following SpaceX's first landing in California
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LA mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted the following image following SpaceX's first landing in California
A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
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A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
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A look at SpaceX's new landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
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In a few short years, SpaceX has turned rocket landings from extraordinary achievements into routine events (although, they are still kind of extraordinary). The company has today notched up another milestone by safely landing its Falcon 9 booster on Californian soil, its first ever landing on the US West Coast.

While this marks SpaceX's 30th rocket landing in all, every one of them up until now has either touched down on its droneship in the ocean or on terra firma at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where it also launches most of its missions.

Today's mission, in which the Falcon 9 rocket fired the SAOCOM 1A satellite into low Earth orbit for the Argentine Space Agency, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It soon finished right where it started, touching down safely on Landing Zone 4 around 1,400 ft (425 m) from the launchpad.

SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time
SpaceX's SAOCOM 1A mission today saw it land a booster on land in California for the first time

It is the 12th ground landing for SpaceX and the first time it has attempted a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Where SpaceX launches its rockets from depends on the mission and how its payloads need to be placed into orbit, while where it lands depends, in part, on how much fuel remains.

Today's success therefore heralds the arrival of a new landing option for the company, providing it with greater flexibility in its effort to recover rockets, which is a key part of its overarching aim to slash the cost of spacefaring.

The event may have piqued the interest of LA residents, with the Air Force issuing an alert ahead of time regarding the possibility of sonic booms. These occur as shock waves from the re-entering booster reaching a velocity exceeding the speed of sound. The launch and landing also created quite a visual spectacle, as noted by city mayor Eric Garcetti when tweeting the following image.

LA mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted the following image following SpaceX's first landing in California
LA mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted the following image following SpaceX's first landing in California

"Nope, definitely not aliens," he said. "What you're looking at is the first launch and landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast. The rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:21 p.m. and landed safely back on Earth. 🚀"

Source: SpaceX (Twitter)

View gallery - 12 images
5 comments
ChairmanLMAO
Go Musk - and Go Trump!
Cody Blank
I could see the launch even being slightly south of Sacramento (almost 300 miles) as I was driving home. Pretty nuts.
jerryd
In just a few yrs Musk has taken on and beat every country, company on earth except for the US, in space. And at this rate, SpaceX will beat the rest of the US in 2 yrs as they deliver goods to space at a fraction of other's costs. I'd bet Musk beats the US back to the moon. And at a fraction of Orion's cost. It's time for the US government to stop delaying the man rating of the Dragon capsule. How many times does it have to prove itself with robot deliveries to the space station and return?
toyhouse
I had completely forgotten about the launch Sun. evening. Hiking with my dog in coastal chaparral beyond town, ( appox. 150mi/240km north of launch), in near darkness except for lights in the distance and a few stars, (mars right next to the event from our angle), and a rare fog-less evening, suddenly the first stage separation caught my eye. The smaller engines had already started blooming outward with a giant glowing halo, and for a very brief moment, the angle and the blooming made it appear as though a gigantic asteroid was hurtling towards earth. My heart came a stop. It took up a large portion of the night sky. Fortunately, my old memory kicked-in after an unsettling moment or two, and I remembered the news warnings about seeing strange things in the sky at the scheduled time. Watched it go all the way up until the engine went out and glowed a very faint red. Had to use a little pocket monocular I always carry to see it. Sure wish I could've seen the landing. To say it was awe inspiring is an understatement.
Derek Howe
jerryd - The Dragon 2 is the man-rated one, not the original dragon (which is the one that goes to the ISS). 2 very different vehicles.