SpaceX rocket mistaken for UFO, missile by spooked Californians

DRAGON RESUPPLY MISSION | SpaceX

A odd light that left people scratching their heads as it passed over Southern California skies last night was actually a rocket being launched. Nor was it the star that led the three kings to Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus, as some who saw it suggested.

At 5:28p.m. PT, at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket achieved liftoff.

A SpaceX launch is seen from Altadena on December 22, 2017, in a photo taken by a KTLA viewer.

SpaceX launched a rocket and a streak could be seen across Southern California, as far as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site.

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

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office tweeted that it was a launch of a SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg. But not everyone heard the news, which compounded the confusion. It was carrying Iridium-4, a package of 10 Iridum communications satellites created to be part of a 81-satellite constellation that'll hover in low earth orbit to deliver data and voice communications.

Musk quickly hopped on Twitter playing on the fears of many social media users by posting live video footage from the launch with the caption, "Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea". That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean. Friday's launch was the fourth set of 10 launched by SpaceX, which is scheduled to launch 75 of the 81 in the NEXT system.

The satellites also carry payloads for global real-time aircraft tracking and a ship-tracking service.

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