SpaceX rocket fires up UFO debate

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky on Friday as it launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, creating a shining, billowing streak. Many who saw the strange sight thought it was an unidentified flying object.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky on Friday as it launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, creating a shining, billowing streak. Many who saw the strange sight thought it was an unidentified flying object.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • SpaceX blasted off a reused Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites into orbit, its fourth launch towards a US$3 billion (S$4 billion) upgrade to Virginia-based Iridium's mobile, voice and data network.

The rocket lit up the night sky on Friday as it launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5.27pm, just after sunset. It created a shining, billowing streak visible to many people across southern California, even as far away as Phoenix, Arizona, reported The Guardian.

Calls about the strange sight came in to TV stations from as far as San Diego, more than 320km south of the launch site.

The Los Angeles fire department issued an advisory that the "mysterious light in the sky" was from the rocket launch, The Guardian added.

Many people pulled their cars over to take photos and videos of the sight. Witnesses posted their photos on social media, with many wondering if it was an unidentified flying object.

"It was definitely aliens," SpaceX founder Elon Musk wrote jokingly on Twitter, responding to a person who said the launch sparked an "alien debate".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'SpaceX rocket fires up UFO debate'. Print Edition | Subscribe