SpaceX preps light and sound show of a landing for California

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center.


If you see something on Sunday night that looks like it came from space, it did. But don’t worry. It’s just a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket landing in California for the first time.

Elon Musk’s launch company is set to send one of its previously used Block 5 Falcon 9 rockets to space on Sunday. The rocket will carry an Argentine Earth-imaging satellite and deliver it to orbit. 

Within about ten minutes of liftoff, which is set for 7:21 p.m. PDT at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will return to a nearby landing pad.

“Local residents may see the first stage of the Falcon 9 returning to Vandenberg AFB, including multiple engine burns associated with the landing,” reads a statement from the Air Force. “During the landing attempt residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear one or more sonic booms.” 

SpaceX has previously launched a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg and landed it offshore in the Pacific Ocean aboard a droneship. This will be the first west coast landing to take place ashore. 

The first stage of this particular Falcon 9 was used on a July 25 launch that carried ten Iridium satellites

The launch had been planned for Saturday evening, but was delayed 24 hours to allow additional time for last-minute checks. 

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for information about the launch.

Los Angeles is also home to SpaceX headquarters and the company has leased a portion of the city’s port to begin work on its Big Falcon Rocket, which is commonly referred to as “BFR.” Musk hopes BFR will carry a group of artists around the moon in five years’ time. Eventually, he says, it could bring humans to Mars. 

Liftoffs and landings in Central California may become a more common sight as the company works to ramp up its launch rate in coming months. 

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