SpaceX West Coast launch to bring sonic booms to California

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 Falcon 9, now on base at California's SpaceX launch pad will take off on Sunday night at 7:21 p.m. PT, with a mission to launch an Argentinean Earth-observing satellite into orbit, and then touch back down in a new landing zone located just a quarter mile away from takeoff, Wired reported.

After it separated from the second stage, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket arrested its forward movement, and began falling back toward Earth.

While SpaceX has launched a rocket from Vandenberg AFB in July, its landing took place on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

The launch of the satellite, SAOCOM 1A, is being conducted for Argentina's space agency. "Sonic booms generate a sound similar to an explosion or a clap of thunder".

SpaceX inaugurated its West Coast rocket-landing pad in style.

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Such landings are part of SpaceX's push to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft, a breakthrough that company founder and CEO Elon Musk has stressed could cut the cost of spaceflight enough to make grand exploration feats such as the settlement of Mars economically feasible. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Argentinian satellite has blasted off from California.

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.

"SAOCOM" is short for "Satélite Argentino de Observación Con Microondas", which is Spanish for "Argentine Microwave-Observation Satellite".

SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year.

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