Sci-tech

Watch SpaceX's first West Coast ground landing at 10:21PM ET

Watch SpaceX's first West Coast ground landing at 10:21PM ET

Residents in southern California could see a rocket launch and hear sonic booms on Sunday evening as part of a historic SpaceX mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County.

The rocket will carry the Argentinian SOACOM 1A radar mapping satellite.

Unspent fuel from the rocket was illuminated by rays from the setting sun, making the contrail visible across wide areas of California. Please let us know where you took the image. Between then and now, the company chalked up 10 more successful landings at the Air Force Station and another 18 on off-shore droneships.

The Air Force is warning residents on California's central coast to be prepared for unusual sights and sounds this weekend as SpaceX attempts its first return of a rocket to launch site on the West Coast. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

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The SAOCOM 1 mission aims to study soil moisture using synthetic-aperture radar readings from two identical satellites in low Earth orbit, SAOCOM 1A and 1B. The rocket plume is expected to be illuminated by the sun after the launch at 7:21 p.m. Sunday. Finally, dropping straight down toward Landing Zone 4, the rocket's four landing legs deployed, a single engine re-started and the booster settled to a picture-perfect touchdown in a cloud of smoke.

Land landings aren't threatened by storms like ocean landings are, and they also allow SpaceX to refurbish the boosters faster, as they don't need to be recovered from sea.

SAOCOM 1, together with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation, make up the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management, or SIASGE.