SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket executed its first on-land touchdown on the West Coast tonight after sending Argentina's SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, putting on a show punctuated by a sonic boom for Southern California.
The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket Sunday night came with a sonic boom warning.
SpaceX successfully launched a satellite to space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County Sunday - and then they stuck the landing.
After Falcon 9's fireworks, booster B1048 managed a stunning return to Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4), giving local observers a nice triple sonic boom.
About three minutes after launch, the rocket detached from the "second stage", including the satellite, stopped its forward momentum, and began to fall back toward the earth, according to SpaceX.
In metro Phoenix, witnesses hit up social media with photos and videos of the peculiar streak of light and ghostlike images they saw.
The event marked the company's first West Coast landing on dry land.
The reusable booster assembly makes the use of rockets more affordable for a wide range of customers across the globe. While many people's first instinct was to think aliens were en route, it was, in fact, a SpaceX rocket launch. The mission's main objective is to gather soil moisture information.
Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit. It will also-in partnership with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation-assist with rapid response during natural disasters.
"SAOCOM" is short for "Satélite Argentino de Observación Con Microondas", which is Spanish for "Argentine Microwave-Observation Satellite".