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Spectacular SpaceX rocket launch lights up the Southern California night sky

By Tariq Malik
October 09, 2018, 9:04:10 AM EDT

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It was a night sky sight so dazzling, the mayor of Los Angeles told everyone not to worry about aliens: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket streaking into the evening sky, leaving a brilliant glowing plume in its wake.

The Falcon 9 launched into orbit late Sunday(Oct. 7) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base about 158 miles (254 kilometers) north of Los Angeles to deliver the Earth-observation radar satellite SAOCOM-1A into orbit for Argentina's national space agency. That mission was a success, and SpaceX also landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 at a new site (Landing Zone 4) near its Vandenberg launchpad in a historic first. But it was the spectacular views of the rocket streaking into the night sky, its two stages clearly visible after separation, that wowed spectators across the region.

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Photographer Joaquin Baldwin captured this spectacular image of SpaceX's successful Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 7, 2018. The streak at top right is the Falcon 9 first stage returning to Earth.Credit: Joaquin Baldwin via Twitterand Instagram


"I watched the launch from Santa Ynez peak, about 40 miles from the base," said Joaquin Baldwin, a Disney feature animation layout artist and photographer who shared a dazzling view of the launch on Twitter. "It was spectacular, the fog lit up and quickly the horizon turned red. After the second stage deployed, the Falcon 9 drew spirals of light in the sky and a massive blue and magenta cloud formed. It looked as if we were staring into a nebula, with two bright eyes staring back."

Baldwin's image also shows the first stage returning to Earth.

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