SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Southern California, briefly illuminates sky over Bay Area

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A bright and unusual sight appeared over much of the Bay Area Sunday evening, bringing excitement to some and concern to others. Aerospace company SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a satellite onboard into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:21 p.m. Sunday. 

The Falcon's first stage rocket booster returned to Earth and successfully landed back at Vandenberg, setting itself down on a predetermined landing zone on the Air Force base.

Residents closer to the launch in Santa Barbara County reported loud sonic booms soon after launch as the rocket initially broke the speed barrier, then again when the boosters returned to the landing zone. 

SpaceX had flown its boosters back to landing zones after launches from Florida, but had never attempted to do so from California until Sunday evening.

People could see the rocket launch in the Bay Area, too.  Eric Meacham caught the moment while filming, coincidentally, outside during a North Bay firestorm anniversary ceremony. 

Falcon 9 carried an Argentinian satellite into space, the SAOCOM 1A, and on into orbit. The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency. It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring.