The launch of a SpaceX rocket into orbit from California on Friday – the 18th and final launch of 2017 for SpaceX – left behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg air force base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles as millions across the US southwest watched in awe.
Spectacular footage of a glowing, billowing streak was widely seen throughout southern California and as far away as Phoenix, Arizona. Calls came in to TV stations and emergency services as far afield as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site, as people were spooked about what caused the strange sight.
Here’s the event as seen from Anaheim, Los Angeles, 160 miles southeast of Vandenberg:
The view from Phoenix, Arizona, which is 500 miles east-southeast of Vandenberg, was equally spectacular. Note that the reporter in the chopper was in the air to cover a traffic accident, not the SpaceX launch:
In this last video we want to show you, reporter Jeff Platt for KBAK-KBFX Eyewitness News was actually covering the SpaceX launch, providing commentary on the event from lift-off to space from his vantage point in Bakersfield, California, which is 95 miles northeast of Vandenberg. Platt is reduced to saying, once the trail fans out into ‘maximum-spectacular’ mode, “At this point I really couldn’t tell what exactly is happening [pause]… space travel isn’t exactly my line of expertise.”