Should you see a rocket within the sky, don't fear it's purported to be there


TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The United Launch Alliance was scheduled to launch a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The launch was set for sometime after 3 p.m. Arizona time and the rocket is carrying a spy satellite for the United States government.

The last time something was launched from Vandenberg, which is 616 miles from Tucson, it caused quite a stir across Arizona.

In late December, SpaceX shot off a Falcon 9 Rocket after the sun went down. The rocket was visible across the night sky and caused many panicked calls to the Tucson News Now newsroom as it left a trail of bright light in its wake. 

[MORE: Kris Pickel, Jerry Ferguson explain the mysterious light]

The rocket was reportedly seen from Las Vegas to Nogales.

[PHOTOS: SpaceX rocket launch gives AZ a pre-Christmas light show]

The first stage of this particular rocket was also launched on a similar mission in June and then recovered, according to SpaceX.

“SpaceX did not attempt to land and recover this particular first stage for the second time, instead executing a landing burn and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, according to the launch webcast,” Mike Wall wrote on Space.com.

But why was Friday’s launch visible here, hundreds of miles away?

“The reason we saw it Arizona is because the sun had not set yet in California and we could see the contrail higher in the atmosphere reflecting the sun’s light,” meteorologist Paul Horton explained.

[SLIDESHOW: Viewers’ photos of SpaceX rocket]

SpaceX is an aerospace company headquartered in Hawthorne, CA. Elon Musk, who posted his own video of the launch to Twitter, is CEO of SpaceX and founder of Tesla, Inc.

According to SpaceX, the rocket launched Friday night was carrying the fourth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to be placed in low-Earth orbit ” in what will be one of the largest ‘tech upgrades’ in history.”

SpaceX?@SpaceX

Iridium has acquired healthy signals from all 10 satellites.

7:59 PM – Dec 22, 2017

It was not the first time a launch like that was visible from Arizona.

In December 2015, a test missile launched from White Sands in New Mexico caused a similar furor.

[RELATED: Contrail from test missile launched in New Mexico visible in Arizona]

Three years before that, an early morning launch lit up the Arizona pre-dawn sky in September 2012.

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