Is it a UFO? A North Korean Nuclear Missile?
No, it’s Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket streaking across the South California sky!
Many southern Californians were left wondering as to what really blazed through the darkening sky Friday evening, until a media advisory from the LA Fire Department AND a Twitter post from none other than the LA Mayor Eric Garcetti himself, allayed their worst fears of UFOs and North Korean nuclear attacks.
“Media Advisory; 5:40PM; VANDENBERG AIR FORCE
BASE; https://goo.gl/maps/wxzcqrqvDEy; INFORMATION ONLY: MYSTERIOUS LIGHT IN THE SKY IS REPORTED TO BE AS A RESULT OF VANDENBURG AIR FORCE BASE LAUNCHING ROCKET TO PUT SATELLITE INTO SPACE. NO FURTHER DETAILS.;TONY HANDY”
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) December 23, 2017
SpaceX launched its 18th and last rocket of the year on Friday (Dec. 22), successfully putting a payload of 10 Iridium Next communications satellites into their target orbits.
The Falcon 9 lifted off at 5:27 pm PT (8:00 pm ET/0127 GMT) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, north of Los Angeles, into a darkening evening sky about 30 minutes after sunset.
However, it was the spectacular views in the California sky, fear-evoking for many, that made more news than the actual launch itself. Well, enough has already been written and said about Elon Musk’s forays into space, a resounding success for each of the eighteen launches this year – and many more expected in 2018.
The rocket was seen throughout southern California and even as far away as Arizona, streaking across the evening sky, leaving in its wake a spectacularly ethereal white plume of expelled gases.
Those who knew about the launch were thoroughly wowed by this awe-inspiring experience.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 23, 2017
— Robert VandenHeuvel (@computerguySFV) December 23, 2017
Big wow. 4K from my Mavic Pro over Alhambra CA of the SpaceX Iridium 4 launch – https://t.co/rpZGqd0NVq – Rocket shows up at 42 seconds.
— Doug Ellison (@doug_ellison) December 23, 2017
— Amanda (@alias_amanda) December 23, 2017
That was a beautiful launch, @SpaceX
Now LA, we need to talk. Keep calm, enjoy the 🚀🛰 pic.twitter.com/vLUbTY1qXw
— Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) December 23, 2017
However, many in nearby La La land, including several Hollywood celebrities, who were not aware of the launch, found themselves in a quandary about the identity of the giant white sperm-like streak passing through the sky, leading many to speculate about UFOs and North Korean nuclear missiles.
And, Elon Musk only added to all of it by jokingly tweeting about a “Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea”
Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea pic.twitter.com/GUIHpKkkp5
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 23, 2017
Here are the worried and confused tweets:
— JuJu Tha G (@JuJuThaG) December 23, 2017
Photographer and visual storyteller Apu Gomes saw what he thought was a “weird light in the sky in Los Angeles” but soon came to know from the “LAFD advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was from a rocket launch.”
Tonight I saw a weird light in the sky in Los Angeles. Minutes later The LAFD issued an advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was from a rocket launch.
The @spacex ‘s Falcon 9 rocket lighted up the sky as it carries 10 Iridium satellites from California to Earth’s orbit pic.twitter.com/JkWHvqcZu8
— Apu Gomes (@gomesapu) December 23, 2017
Emmy and Golden Globe awards nominee and HBO’s “Westworld” star, Evan Rachel Wood, certainly didn’t know what she had just seen in the sky.
Anyone? Seriously, wtf? pic.twitter.com/ImKaWz4MIH
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) December 23, 2017
Actor/Rapper Jaden Smith was as confused as Wood
Wtf Is This pic.twitter.com/vF4fSyRHOG
— Jaden Smith (@officialjaden) December 23, 2017
Singer, songwriter, actress Demi Lovato has a conspiracy theory and is “calling bullshit on SpaceX’s excuse. That shit’s a UFO and there’s been others that have been seen that are just like it!!”
I’m calling bullshit on SpaceX’s excuse. That shit’s a UFO and there’s been others that have been seen that are just like it!!
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) December 23, 2017
Professional skater and actor Tony Hawk wanted to know what he had seen in the skies above San Diego. “Does anyone know what we just saw in the skies above San Diego?”
Does anyone know what we just saw in the skies above San Diego? pic.twitter.com/EFNBh87Hc8
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) December 23, 2017
Rapper, singer, songwriter William Adams – better known as will.i.am – asked, “What is that in the Los Angeles sky?”
What is that in the Los Angeles sky? pic.twitter.com/15fmC4FgLU
— will.i.am (@iamwill) December 23, 2017
Coming back to the launch, the Falcon 9 used for Friday’s Iridium Next satellite-launch mission is the same rocket that carried Iridium satellites in June, as well, with the first stage landing on a floating deck in the Pacific Ocean, while this time around, the booster was allowed to plunge into the sea.
According to Elon Musk, this was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of spectacle, what with the 3-first-stage-booster Falcon Heavy rocket, with three times the thrust of the current Falcon 9, scheduled for several launches in 2018.
Instead of one, we’ll get to see two boosters returning to back to base, while a third core will land on a drone ship.
If you liked tonight’s launch, you will really like Falcon Heavy next month: 3 rocket cores & 3X thrust. 2 cores return to base doing synchronized aerobatics. 3rd lands on droneship.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 23, 2017
Here are pictures of the Falcon Heavy, Musk posted on social media.
Falcon Heavy at the Cape pic.twitter.com/hizfDVsU7X
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2017
In what will be another first for SpaceX, Musk announced Friday, via an Instagram post, that future test flights of new rockets will carry a Tesla Roadster car, instead of the usual “concrete or steel blocks,” which he called boring. “A Red Car for the Red Planet,” he said – an indication of his seriousness about future Mars missions.
A Red Car for the Red Planet Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.