Hawthorne, Calif. -based SpaceX has been landing rocket boosters regularly at its Florida launch sites, but the California landing pad could allow the company to refurbish rockets at Vandenberg.
The SAOCOM-1 mission marked the first time that the company had completed a successful landing of a Falcon 9's first stage back near the launch site - at its West Coast launch site.
The U.S. Air Force last week warned central California residents of an expected sonic boom (or two) as the first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to Vandenberg AFB.
Some of the pictures showed the Falcon 9 rocket separating and leaving a rocket trail behind.
Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit. It was the 30th successful landing for SpaceX out of 62 total launches and the 12th on land.
Lighting up the evening sky, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket streaked away from Southern California, boosting an Argentine environmental satellite into orbit.
If anything goes wrong during the launch and landing, there is a risk of explosion. Boosters are shorter-burning rocket motors/engines that are used alongside the main rockets to augment the space vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capacity during initial stage launch. The mission's main objective is to collect soil moisture information.
Not yet officially on the schedule, SpaceX's next Vandenberg launch is expected to be Spaceflight Industries' SSO-A rideshare mission, carrying around 70 individual satellites of varying masses.
Those who knew they were watching a satellite launch posted videos they captured of the stunning spectacle, including one taken over the downtown Los Angeles skyline and a timelapse from Kern County.
The satellite's twin, SAOCOM-1B, will also launch on a Falcon 9; its liftoff is targeted for next year.