In some respects, Sunday night’s launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was nothing special. After all, SpaceX has launched 35 rockets in just the last 21 months. This rocket had already been launched once before as well, back in July, from this very launch pad.
But in some ways, the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket was pretty darn awesome. For one, skies at the notoriously fogged-in launch site along the central California coast are rarely crystal clear for a launch. (They were Sunday night). Moreover, SpaceX landed a rocket at its new Landing Zone 4 on the coast for the first time that night.
All of this proved a playground for Trevor Mahlmann, who was on hand to capture photographs of the night launch and landing for Ars. His fine work appears in the gallery above, and we’re happy to share it with our readers.
As for the primary mission, the Falcon 9 rocket smoothly delivered the SAOCOM 1A satellite into its intended orbit. The company has now flown 17 missions this year, and with half a dozen more on its manifest for the rest of the year, SpaceX seems likely to eclipse its record of 18 missions in 2017.