SpaceX

Elon Musk’s latest SpaceX launch leaves behind a trail of mystery over California

ELON Musk’s latest SpaceX launch left behind a trail of wonder and worry, with US authorities forced to issue a warning.

A REUSED SpaceX rocket has carried 10 satellites into orbit from California, leaving behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space.

The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday evening, local time, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications.

The launch in the setting sun created a shining, billowing contrail that was widely seen throughout Southern California and as far away as Phoenix.

The contrail from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen from Long Beach, California. Picture: AP

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

Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles so drivers and passengers could take pictures and video.

The Los Angeles Fire Department issued an advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was from the rocket launch.

Jimmy Golen, a sports writer for The Associated Press in Boston who was in Southern California for the holidays, said he and other tourists saw the long, glowing contrail while touring Warner Bros. studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank.

“People were wondering if it had something to do with movies, or TV or a UFO,” he said.

“It was very cool.”

‘A mysterious light in the sky’. Picture: AP

The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June.

That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. This time, the rocket was allowed to plunge into the water.

It was the 18th and final launch of 2017 for SpaceX, which has contracted to replace Iridium’s system with 75 updated satellites.

SpaceX has made four launches and expects to make several more to complete the job by mid-2018. The satellites also carry payloads for global aircraft tracking and a ship- tracking service.

Mr Musk outlined the bold agenda for his SpaceX company in Adelaide, including the development of a new rocket and spaceship, codenamed BFR, to carry more than 100 Martian settlers.

 Billionaire Elon Musk is planning to take us to Mars. Picture: AFPHe believes he could send the first two cargo ships to the red planet by 2022 with the first two crewed craft touching down just two years later.

An added bonus could be using the same technology to fly people anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Sydney for example, in less than half an hour, potentially revolutionising global transportation with passengers paying essentially the same as they do now for a commercial airline ticket.

Mr Musk said he expected to start construction of the first BFR in 2018 and was “fairly confident” of being able to launch in about five years.

“So we start with one ship, then multiple ships and start building up the (Martian) city,” he told the International Astronautical Congress.

The BFR will stand 100 metres tall with 31 engines to lift a payload of more than 4000 tonnes into space.

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