A flash of bright light over Palm Springs had social media buzzing Friday evening, but don’t fret, it’s not an alien attack.
All indications are that the light is coming from the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara.
Many in the desert took to Facebook and Twitter to show images of the bright white light that illuminated the clouds over the San Jacinto Mountains.
SpaceX began tweeting around 5 p.m. about the launch, which was aired lived on their website. Falcon 9 launched around 5:30 p.m., according to tweets from the SpaceX Twitter account.
Around 5:45 p.m., the engine was cutoff and the stage separation was confirmed and the second stage engine burn was underway.
Less than 10 minutes after that, the second stage engines cutoff and the satellites are now in coast phase.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a company focused on data satellite communications, according to a SpaceX press release.
This launch is the fourth set of 10 satellites out of 75 total satelites that will form Iridium’s “next generation global satellite constellation,” called Iridium NEXT.
The satellites will be deployed from the rocket about an hour after the initial launch.
SpaceX will not attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage of the rocket after launch.
SpaceX confirmed via their Twitter account that the launch was successful. Eva Behrend, SpaceX spokeswoman, said the company would not be issuing any other statements about the launch aside from what was posted on Twitter.
Iridium NEXT plans to replace the world’s largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites for a “tech upgrade.”
Iridium is a communications company that hopes to deliver “fast speeds and higher throughputs for…aviation, maritime, Internet of Things, terrestrial and government organizations,” according to the press release.
The company hopes to improve aircraft tracking and surveillance systems. When the full satellite system is completed, Iridium hopes that air traffic control companies and aircraft operators will purchase the service which will provide real-time, global visibility of aircrafts that are equipped with automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast technologies.
The webcast can be found at www.spacex.com/webcast. According to the SpaceX Twitter account, the webcast will be back around 6:15 p.m. for the second stage engine restart and deployment of 10 satellites.