Residents described the expanding nebula, containing two active rocket stages and multiple shock waves as "exciting," "heart-stopping," "riveting," and "like an alien invasion!"
But this was no alien, SpaceX said. All the technology came from the Earth labs of SpaceX, which launched the rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"It was a Falcon 9 rocket launch," says Behyar Bakhshandeh, who photographed the exhaust hovering in the sky above Carlsbad, CA.
Falcon has landed pic.twitter.com/joqphUs1AO— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2018
The Falcon 9 propelled an Argentine environmental satellite into orbit. The rocket's previously flown first stage then flipped around and returned to Vandenberg, chalking up SpaceX's first West Coast landing.
The booster put on a spectacular show as it descended tail first, deploying four legs and firing up one of its nine engines to slow for touchdown in a cloud of fiery exhaust.
This marked SpaceX’s 30th landing of a first stage, as well as the first time a Falcon 9 rocket touched down on the West Coast.
Featured image credit: Elon Musk, SpaceX