SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Puts on Light Show in Tonight's Sky

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Puts on Light Show in Tonight's Sky

Those near the base, which is near Lompoc, may be able to see quite a show as the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket burns its rocket engines to come to a gentle landing back at the air force base, officials said.

The launch, employing the upgraded Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket, remained scheduled for 7:21 p.m.

SpaceX had previously flown first-stage rockets back to land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.

A look at Landing Zone 4, SpaceX's newest rocket landing site, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Not yet officially on the schedule, SpaceX's next Vandenberg launch is expected to be Spaceflight Industries' SSO-A rideshare mission, carrying around 70 individual satellites of varying masses. It's the 30th successful landing of a rocket booster.

The satellite, Saocom-1A, separated from the launcher's upper stage about 13 minutes later.

SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring.

SpaceX conducted its seventeenth launch of the year October 7, sending an Argentine radar satellite into low-Earth orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket. Elon Musk's company had leased a former Titan rocket launch site in 2015 to build its own landing pad, but it it hasn't received clearance. The mission's main goal is to collect soil moisture information.

Landing and refurbishing first-stage boosters is key to SpaceX's plans to decrease launch costs. The second satellite will be SAOCOM 1B. CONAE will operate the satellite as part of the Argentine-Italian System of Satellites with the Italian Space Agency, coordinating observations with Italy's four Cosmo-Skymed X-band SAR satellites.

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