Could Arizona see SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch tonight? | Phoenix New Times

How to see the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch in Arizona

Skyrocket in flight. Evening viewing delight.
A Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base viewed over downtown Phoenix in December 2017.
A Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base viewed over downtown Phoenix in December 2017. John Sirlin/Alamy Stock Photo
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Arizona residents might be able to catch a glimpse of a spectacular sight in the evening skies this week, courtesy of the latest SpaceX launch in California.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 20 Starlink satellites is scheduled to be launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday evening.

The liftoff window is set to begin at approximately 8:40 p.m. Arizona time. According to a SpaceX spokesperson, the launch might be scrubbed due to high winds.

If the launch is rescheduled, additional opportunities will occur on Wednesday until midnight Arizona time and on Thursday starting at 8 p.m. Arizona time.

When SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket does launch, it's illimunated exhaust plume will be visible in the western skies.

Can I see the SpaceX launch in Arizona?

Previous nighttime Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base have been visible in the western skies over Arizona in recent years, where the rocket's exhaust plume is illuminated by the sun.

The phenomenon, known as the “twilight effect,” causes a striking visual display, particularly when the launches occur shortly after sunset. This typically results in numerous posts on social media by Arizona residents who see the rocket plumes.

The twilight effect is enhanced by the clear skies often present in Arizona, offering residents a potentially unobstructed view.

This isn't the first time SpaceX launches from Vandenberg AFB have been visible in Arizona. In October 2018, a Falcon 9 launch lit up the sky, creating a dazzling light show that was widely seen across the southwestern United States. Similarly, a launch in December 2017 also provided a spectacular viewing experience.

Why does SpaceX launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base?

Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is along the Pacific coast in central California, has been a launch site for NASA and private aerospace companies like SpaceX for decades because its an due to its ideal location for polar and sun-synchronous orbits, which are crucial for Earth observation and reconnaissance satellites.

The base's coastal position allows for safe launch trajectories over the ocean, minimizing risk to populated areas.
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