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Long Beach Sees Spectacular Space X Vandenberg Rocket Launch Carrying Iridium Communications Satellites is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Dec. 22, 2017, front page breaking 5:50 p.m., updated 10:40 p.m.) -- As first flashed on's front page, Long Beach (and areas from Central California to San Diego to Phoenix) had a spectacular view of a Space X rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB sending a Falcon 9 SLC-4e rocket carrying Iridium Next commercial communications satellites into orbit.

Photo above from ELB shows launch in progress (with street light also visible.) VIDEO (captured by Max Pearl) is on link below, scroll down.

The launch at 5:27 p.m. was visible (rocket ascending and streaking across the sky) by 5:30 p.m. and remained visible for several minutes, including what appeared to be a rocket stage separation.

[Scroll down for further.]

Iridium says its ten satellites carried aloft in this launch are part of a contract to deliver 75 satellites into low-earth orbit that will further expand the firm's communication capabilities. The satellites also contained a new air traffic control system (Aireon) that can track planes basically anywhere over the planet (including areas 100+ miles offshore where air traffic controllers now rely on a pilot to relay location.) [The FAA has been testing the system as part of its deployed NextGen system but hasn't made a final decision on whether to implement Aireon.]

Iridium ultimately plans to expand its global satellite communications service from roughly 900,00 devices to 10+ million. Space X;s launch used the same rocket booster that Space X landed and recovered after an Iridium-2 mission in June but this time SpaceX didn't try to land or recover Falcon9's first stage. It's Space X's 18th launch the firm this year (outpacing government launches.)



Elon Musk is the founder, CEO and lead designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) which is developing and manufacturing rockets and and spacecraft for missions to and beyond Earth orbit.

[Space X website text] Founded in 2002, SpaceX's mission is to enable humans to become a spacefaring civilization and a multi-planet species by building a self-sustaining city on Mars. In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 became the first privately developed liquid-fuel launch vehicle to orbit the Earth. Following that milestone, NASA awarded SpaceX with contracts to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS). A global leader in commercial launch services, SpaceX is the first commercial provider to launch and recover a spacecraft from orbit, attach a commercial spacecraft to the ISS and successfully land an orbital-class rocket booster. By pioneering the development of fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft, SpaceX is dramatically reducing the cost of access to space, the first step in making life on Mars a reality in our lifetime.

Elon is also the co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla, which makes electric cars, giant batteries and solar products...


Amnesia file: Long Beach residents may recall that for some reason(s), Mr. Musk was put-off by the treatment he received from the City of Long Beach under then-Mayor Bob Foster when Mr. Musk was then-considering whether to locate a factory to build all-electric Tesla vehicles in southern CA. (The firm ultimately decided to build the vehicles in northern CA.)




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