NEAR LOMPOC (CBSLA) – Southern Californians may have caught a glimpse of an orange streak when they looked to the skies Monday morning.
Vandenberg Space Force Space in Santa Barbara County launched its 2,000th rocket at 11:11 a.m. Monday.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket is carrying the NASA Landsat 9 observatory into orbit.
The satellite will be used to provide data and images for scientific research on water use, wildfires, coral reef degradation, glaciers, ice shelf retreat and deforestation, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was in attendance.
Vandenberg invited the public to watch the takeoff from the Hawk’s Nest on Highway 1, just a half-mile south of the base’s main gate.
“The 2,000th launch gives us the opportunity to celebrate the tens of thousands from Team Vandenberg, past and present, who share a proud heritage beginning with the first launch in 1958 through this 2,000th launch,” Col. Rob Long said in a statement. “Space—and launch—is hard. Our record of success is a testament to longstanding mission excellence.”
Earlier this month, a rocket exploded just minutes after a test launch from Vandenberg. Texas-based Firefly Aerospace was conducting the first ever test flight of its Alpha rocket when the explosion occurred shortly after takeoff.
Test launches of unarmed intercontinental ballistic missiles are conducted multiple times a year from Vandenberg.