SpaceX rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base a success

Steve Phelps
December 26, 2017

Just before 5:30 p.m. PST this evening, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into the sky from the Vandenberg Air Force Base - but it turns out, a lot of people thought they were watching a UFO fly over Southern California. To the disappointment of UFO enthusiasts, the object was not an extraterrestrial coming to visit.

The Twilight effect from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch in the setting sun created a shining streak that was widely seen throughout Southern California and prompted puzzlement and even concern.

Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles so drivers and passengers could take pictures and video. But not everyone heard the news, which compounded the confusion.

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SpaceX has completed its 18th launch in 2017, marking a record year for the private space company. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, responding to one person on Twitter who said the launch sparked an "alien debate" in his family, wrote jokingly, "It was definitely aliens". That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.

The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June.

Iridium's goal with its NEXT satellite constellation is to provide 100 percent coverage of the globe for tracking all flights in progress in real-time, and it will also be able to monitor every single ship traversing Earth via the same technology, making that info available for its commercial customers.

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