First SpaceX West Coast rocket landing lights up California sky

This marks the first time a rocket has ever been landed on the West Coast.

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2 min read

On Sunday, SpaceX completed a historic launch (and landing) after it successfully sent one of its previously used Block 5 Falcon 9 rockets into space, delivering SAOCOM 1A -- an Argentinian Earth-imaging satellite -- into orbit, before landing safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Watch this: SpaceX successfully lands Falcon 9 rocket in California

It's the first time SpaceX (or anyone) has landed a rocket on the West Coast.

SpaceX  had previously launched a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg and landed it offshore in the Pacific Ocean aboard a drone ship. The launch had been initially planned for Saturday, but was delayed 24 hours for some last-minute checks.

Block 5 represents what SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has called the final iteration of the Falcon 9, with improvements to boost power and make it easier to reuse the booster up to 10 times without refurbishment and perhaps 100 times over its lifetime. Musk has said he'd like to see a single Block 5 rocket fly three or four times by the end of 2018, and he hopes to demonstrate that the same rocket can be launched, landed and then launched again within 24 hours. 

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Shortly afterward SpaceX confirmed that SAOCOM 1A had been deployed in record time.

And then SpaceX showed a shot of the Falcon 9, arrived on the landing zone 4. It's the 30th landing of a rocket booster.

From the ground, Twitter users posted incredible shots of the Falcon 9 coming back to Earth.

The 3,000-kilogram SAOCOM 1A satellite was built by equipment manufacturer INVAP, and this deployment was done in conjunction with Argentina's space agency with the purpose of radar-imaging the Earth.

A launch of the follow-on SAOCOM 1B is planned for next year.

First published Oct. 6 at 1:05 p.m. PT.
Updated Oct. 7 at 8:29 p.m. PT: Added details of Falcon 9's landing.

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