Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California

December 23, 2017
Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
The contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen in the sky Friday, Dec. 22 2017, in Apple Valley, Calif. The launch was more than 200 miles from Apple Valley yet was still brilliantly visible. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)

A reused SpaceX rocket carried 10 satellites into orbit from California on Friday, leaving behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space.

The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications.

The launch in the setting sun created a shining, billowing streak that was widely seen throughout Southern California and as far away as Phoenix.

Calls came in to TV stations as far afield as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site.

Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles so drivers and passengers could take pictures and video.

The Los Angeles Fire Department issued an advisory that the "mysterious light in the sky" was from the rocket launch.

Jimmy Golen, a sports writer for The Associated Press in Boston who was in Southern California for the holidays, said he and other tourists saw the long, glowing contrail while touring Warner Bros. studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank.

"People were wondering if it had something to do with movies, or TV or a UFO," he said. "It was very cool."

The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June. That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. This time, the rocket was allowed to plunge into the water.

The contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Burbank, Calif., more than 100 miles southeast from its launch site in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A reused SpaceX rocket carried 10 satellites into orbit from California on Friday, leaving behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space. The launch in the setting sun created a shining, billowing streak that was widely seen throughout Southern California and as far away as Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jimmy Golen)

It was the 18th and final launch of 2017 for SpaceX, which has contracted to replace Iridium's system with 75 updated satellites. SpaceX has made four launches and expects to make several more to complete the job by mid-2018.

The satellites also carry payloads for global aircraft tracking and a ship-tracking service.

Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
In this photo provided by Javier Mendoza, the contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Long Beach, Calif., more than 100 miles southeast from its launch site Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A reused SpaceX rocket has carried 10 satellites into orbit from California, leaving behind it a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (Javier Mendoza via AP)

Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
The contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Pasadena, Calif., about 150 miles east from its launch site in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A reused SpaceX rocket has carried 10 satellites into space from California, leaving behind it a trail of mystery and wonder. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday. It carried the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
The contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Pasadena, Calif., about 150 miles east from its launch site in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A reused SpaceX rocket has carried 10 satellites into space from California, leaving behind it a trail of mystery and wonder. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday. It carried the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
The contrail from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Pasadena, Calif., about 150 miles east from its launch site in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. A reused SpaceX rocket has carried 10 satellites into space from California, leaving behind it a trail of mystery and wonder. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday. It carried the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
Rocket lights sky as it carries satellites from California
A Hair Salon worker photographs the light display of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch, Friday, Dec. 22 2017, in Apple Valley, Calif. The launch was more than 200 miles from Apple Valley yet was still brilliantly visible. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)

Explore further: SpaceX set to launch satellites from California air base

Related Stories

Recommended for you

HESS J1943+213 is an extreme blazar, study finds

June 21, 2018

An international group of astronomers have carried out multi-wavelength observations of HESS J1943+213 and found evidence supporting the hypothesis that this gamma-ray source is an extreme blazar. The finding is reported ...

'Red nuggets' are galactic gold for astronomers

June 21, 2018

About a decade ago, astronomers discovered a population of small, but massive galaxies called "red nuggets." A new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in these ...

The Rosetta stone of active galactic nuclei deciphered

June 21, 2018

A galaxy with at least one active supermassive black hole – named OJ 287 – has caused many irritations and questions in the past. The emitted radiation of this object spans a wide range – from the radio up to the highest ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

carbon_unit
not rated yet Dec 24, 2017
Think how amazing a Falcon Heavy launch with booster recovery will be!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.