Excitement on the American west coast, the cars stopped on the highways, and the drivers got out to photograph this strange phenomenon: on Friday, a bright object flashed in the night sky above the metropolis of Los Angeles, pulling a spectacular cloud of smoke behind it.
To the dismay of all UFO enthusiasts, speculations on the Internet about an alien flying object were quickly disappointed: It was a launch of a “Falcon 9” rocket by the private space company SpaceX.
The missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and was also visible in neighboring states such as Arizona. SpaceX founder Elon Musk took the hype surrounding the allegedly unidentified flying object with – well – humor and posted a video of the rocket on Twitter. It was a “Nuclear alien UFO” from North Korea, he joked. His PR experts will have to retrain:
German TV entertainer Thomas Gottschalk – who is known to be based in Malibu, California – was amazed, snapped and tweeted:
Perhaps SpaceX should have informed them beforehand that they had planned a rocket launch shortly after sunset. As the company announced on Saturday, the reusable spacecraft had ten communication satellites on board. For the fourth time, SpaceX is to launch satellites for the new Iridium Next communication system on an earth-orbit.
The US company Iridium wants to launch a total of 81 new satellites to improve its global communication network. SpaceX is expected to launch 75 of the satellites into space. 40 are already there. The first stage of the “Falcon 9” rocket had already been used when Iridium was launched in June.
SpaceX wants to offer a cost-effective alternative to state space programs and has already supplied the International Space Station with supplies on behalf of the US space agency NASA. The core of the program is the multiple use of the launchers, which can land on Earth again after they have been used in space.