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Sonic-boom UFO show! SpaceX launches satellite, lands rocket booster in California

08 October 2018

About half an hour later, the first stage booster was sent back to the base, the first time the company has landed this type of rocket on the West Coast.

The primary objective of Sunday's mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also successfully sent a first stage booster back to the base for the first time.

"During the landing attempt, residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear one or more sonic booms", according to the advisory.

The upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 is part of SpaceX's plan for vastly cheaper and more efficient spaceflight.

The launch is scheduled for shortly after 7:20 p.m., Vandenberg Air Force base officials said in an advisory. But tonight's event marked SpaceX's first-ever land touchdown on the West Coast.

The rocket will be carrying an Argentinian Earth-observing satellite, known as SAOCOM-1A, into orbit. By launching after the sun has set at the launch site itself, this allows the rocket to quite literally catch up with the terminator and reenter sunlight while those on the ground at or around the pad experience twilight conditions.

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SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year. The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX's landing zone, not far from the launch pad.

SAOCOM-1A's radar measurements will track soil-moisture levels, thereby aiding forecasts of crop yields.

Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit.

The satellite is the first of two that will be used for emergency management and for land monitoring.

Viewers took to social media to speculate on the rocket, which was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Sonic-boom UFO show! SpaceX launches satellite, lands rocket booster in California