If you’re in the vicinity of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday evening (Oct. 7), you might hear some strange booming and see some weird lights in the sky. But the Air Force would like you to know that there’s no need to worry; something entirely normal is going on — a rocket that heaved its way up into space will be falling back to Earth, correcting its trajectory with “multiple engine burns,” and then (if all goes well) settling comfortably back on its landing struts in the vicinity of its launch site.
The Air Force released the warning because, while Floridians have had ample time to grow comfortable with the spectacle of SpaceX landings, this will be the first attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast. It will not, however, be the first launch from Vandenberg:
The rocket is currently scheduled to launch at 7:21 p.m. local time, carry the SAOCOM 1A satellite into space, and return to Earth shortly afterward.
According to a Facebook post by the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg, “local residents” can expect to see something of the rocket itself as it returns to the base, while people as far as Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear thunderclap-like sonic booms, depending on the weather.