San Diegans thrilled by sight of rocket lifting off from distant Vandenberg Air Force Base


From the flower fields in Carlsbad to the boardwalk in Pacific Beach to porches in El Cajon, people across San Diego County on Sunday marveled at the sight of a Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from distant Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc.

The SpaceX booster roared off the platform at 7:21 p.m., producing a white, green and blue plume that was visible across much of California.

Fading rays of sunlight hit the rocket’s unspent fuel, causing it to glow brightly as the booster placed the SAOCOM 1A satellite into space.

The booster than returned to Vandenberg, where it made a safe landing, 230 miles northwest of San Diego, the Air Force said.

Within minutes, people across San Diego County began emailing photos to the Union-Tribune. Many of them came from cellphones, but were crisp enough to show the rocket’s plume fanning out across the sky.

By 8:55 p.m., the U-T had received images from everyone from beach-goers to people across inland foothills out for an evening walk. Images also were sent from as far away as Blythe, Temecula and Lassen.

Images also arrived from Rebecca Agliano of Hemet, who said, “My 11-year-old took the photos. It was my kids first launch as well as mine! I’ve been trying to watch it take off for awhile now.”