SpaceX launches rocket over San Diego, then sticks the landing

SpaceX					SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block 5 ready for first Return-To-Launch-Site booster landing

SpaceX had previously flown first-stage rockets back to land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.

Following successful separation from Falcon 9's upper stage and the SAOCOM 1A satellite payload, booster B1048 immediately began a rapid 180-degree flip maneuver, igniting either one or three of its Merlin 1D engines to begin its journey back to the launch site.

"This is great news for everyone here at SpaceX", Tom Praderio, a SpaceX firmware engineer, said during live launch commentary tonight.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket as seen from the North Coast.

Air Force officials have issued a warning that residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties could potentially hear one or more sonic booms due to the launch.

Argentina's National Commission on Space Activities, or CONAE, will operate the two SAOCOM satellites in cooperation with the Italian Space Agency's COSMO-SkyMed radar satellites.

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After a trouble-free countdown, the two-stage rocket blasted off right on time at 7:21 p.m. PT from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, leaving a post-sunset contrail glowing in the cloudless skies above. The satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff. The California-based aerospace manufacturing company founded by Elon Musk launched its Falcon 9 rocket Sunday evening.

Using titanium "grid fins" at the top of the rocket for steering and attitude control, the booster plummeted tail-first toward Vandenberg. It's landing on terra firma after successfully obtaining a license for the pad this summer.

The Saocom-1A launch places SpaceX one mission away from tying its record of 18 launches in one year, set in 2017.

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