This SpaceX Falcon 9 was launched at 8:48 PM on June 23, 2024, carrying 20 Starlink satellites.

There were clouds on the horizon as the rocket launched. The first portion of the video shows stage 1 streaking up through the clouds – focus was difficult. Then stage 1 stops firing, there is a pause, and stage 2 kicks in with the fan-tail plume. As the fairings that join the two stages and stage 1 itself drop back, there are two lights for the fairings and one for stage 1 behind the fairings in the exhaust plume.

About 48 seconds into the video and again at 56 seconds are what sound like sonic booms (amplified in my audio) – probably from stage 1 dropping back toward earth. I’ve not been able to hear these from Long Beach before!

After a break to walk around a tree (and bumping into my car since my eyes were looking skyward) there’s a bit more close-up video. A bit later, I took a still photo (over my neighbor’s house) of the stage 1 deceleration burn as it slowed preparing to land on a barge off-shore. Susie and I watched the SpaceX broadcast of the impressive landing.

Then I took another still photo of the exhaust plumes in the sky as they dispersed for some time after the launch. The plumes are brightly lit by the sun from below the horizon – pretty ideal circumstances for a good launch show! Notice the different color of the two plumes.

rocket launch exhaust plumes

I dreamed of seeing rocket launches as a boy watching Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches on TV! And now I’ve seen three in the past couple of weeks from my front garden. Wonders.

You can be informed of launches from Vandenberg by email. Subscribe to this newsletter; it is just the right information without baggage. The email alerting of a launch will have a link to SpaceX’s launch coverage at or elsewhere for other launches, such as those from Firefly. The link in the newsletter mailing will be specific to the mission, and opens on live coverage most of the time.

The M.O. is to watch the launch coverage to see that the rocket actually launches, and then watch West Nortwest (from Long Beach) for the stage 1 burn to appear rising orange in the sky. (Well, orange for a Falcon 9….) It usually takes about a minute or a bit more for the rocket to rise high enough in the sky to be visible from Long Beach, CA where I live. The best time to watch is for launches just after sunset on a fairly clear night; they can be spectacular! Daylight launches are often invisible from Long Beach.