SpaceX Rocket Launch Baffles, Scares Southern California Residents

Many Angelenos didn’t know that a rocket launch was taking place nearby, leading many to think they were witnessing a missile attack or an extraterrestrial visit.

Published Dec 24, 2017

A glowing streak that lit up the sky over Southern California on the evening of 22 December 2017 stopped traffic and left unknowing residents speculating about its origins and attributing it to everything from a nuclear attack to an alien spacecraft:

In fact, the eerily strange and beautiful sight was a SpaceX rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, which was carrying a cargo of 10 satellites for the Iridium constellation to be used in mobile voice and data communications:

Many locals captured images and video of the spectacular phenomenon and posted the results on social media:

The Los Angeles Fire Department issued a statement attempted to allay fears by informing locals that the "mysterious light in the sky is reported to be the result of [Vandenberg] Air Force Base launching rocket to put satellite into space":

However, their efforts were somewhat undercut by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who playfully tweeted video of the launch under the title "Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea":

As always, some onlookers expressed skepticism of the "official" explanation:

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