Can SpaceX Stick the Landing at Vandenberg?

Rocket Will Attempt First West Coast Landing This Sunday

A SpaceX rocket lands at Cape Canaveral.
Courtesy Photo

[Update: October 4, 2018, 8 a.m.] Vandenberg officials announced the launch will be delayed on Wednesday afternoon, after the Indy went to press. Another 24 hours is needed to complete a pre-flight check that does not involve the rocket or payload. The new date and time is Sunday, October 7, at 7:21 p.m.

[Original Story] The latest launch of a SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base likely has CEO Elon Musk crossing his fingers that it can stick the first-ever landing on the Pacific coast. A Falcon 9 rocket blasts off on Saturday from Lompoc to take an Argentine SAOCOM-1A satellite into orbit, where it will produce high-resolution images of Earth. After deployment, the Falcon will then return within minutes to a pad 0.3 miles away from the launchpad, according to nasaspaceflight.com.

SpaceX has successfully completed two landings at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The Vandenberg landing would see the same core reused after a July flight that landed on the Just Read the Instructions autonomous spaceport drone ship. The core has since been refurbished and returned to duty.

Vandenberg Air Force Base issued a warning to Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties that the multiple engine burns and return of the Falcon 9 rocket could cause numerous thunderous sonic booms. The blastoff is planned to begin on Saturday, October 6, at 7:21 p.m. More information and viewing sites are at Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing Facebook page.

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