Santa Clarita Valley residents were treated to a spectacular light show Sunday night when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM 1A satellite streaked across the sky.
The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County at 7:21 p.m.
Mia Vasquez, 13, and her brother Theo, 11, of Valencia, were at Central Park on Sunday night watching their father play softball when the rocket made players of both teams stop and stare up at the northwestern sky.
“It looked like a big, red fire bolt,” Mia said. “And then it just exploded and went in two difference pieces.”
The SpaceX completed the secondary mission of landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at Landing Zone 4, which was previously called SLC-4W, at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Photographer Jeff Zimmerman was at the scene, camera ready, when the rocket blasted off.
“The first stage carrying the satellite into low orbit for a dryness experiment was manufactured in Argentina and went to the left,” he said.
As he watched, he noticed: “The primary booster rocket went to the right and landed safely back at Vandenberg AFB as planned”
A sonic boom was heard, he said, by many residents close to the base.
Sunday night’s show was an encore performance.
In December, SpaceX – a private, Southern California-based aerospace firm – launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit as a part of its Iridium-4 Mission.
The rocket lifted off at 5:27 p.m. on Dec. 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base and its incandescent contrails could be seen across Southern California.
These condensation trails were clearly visible from Santa Clarita.