Late Friday afternoon ahead of a holiday weekend, social media lit up with posts about a mysterious object flying through the skies above Los Angeles. Was it a UFO? A chemtrail? Superman? Nope — it's the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Iridium-4.
Vandenberg Air Force Base confirmed that the massive glowing cloud and floating orbs over L.A. was the SpaceX rocket, launched at 5:27 p.m.
So what makes it look like that? Astronomer Jonathan McDowell offered this explanation:
It's the fourth set of 10 satellites in a series of 75 total that SpaceX is launching as part of Iridium NEXT, according to the organization. These satellites are replacing an existing network of low-Earth orbit commercial satellites.
They also reused the first stage for this launch from the Iridium-2 mission, though they noted that they don't plan to recover the first stage from this launch.
Watch the full launch video here:
This story has been updated.