SpaceX rocket illuminates California skies with Sunday launch

The Falcon 9 rocket will carry 20 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A SpaceX rocket put on a show over Los Angeles after launching Sunday evening from Vandenberg Space Force Base on the Santa Barbara County coast.

The exhaust plume from the Falcon 9 rocket carrying 20 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit was illuminated against the darkening night sky by the setting sun.

The rocket and its exhaust plume are sometimes visible for hundreds of miles as it soars along the coast, if skies are clear. Launches just after sunset and before sunrise usually provide the best views as the rocket reflects the sun's rays against the backdrop of a darkened sky.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon rockets in 2023, eclipsing its previous annual record of 61 orbital launches in 2022.

See how Sunday's SpaceX rocket launch looked around Southern California

SpaceX has a Starlink constellation of satellites orbiting Earth about 340 miles up, shuttled into space by the company's rocketsThe Starlink network is designed to deliver high-speed internet anywhere around the globe.

If light conditions are right, the satellites appear in a train as they parade across the night sky. The satellites are sometimes visible in the first few minutes after sundown and before sunrise when the sun is below the horizon, but the satellites are high enough to reflect direct sunlight.

Use the FindStarlink tracker to find the best upcoming viewing times.

Contact Us