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Low Clouds Hamper Views For Spectators As Central Coast Base Celebrates 2000th Rocket Launch

landsat 9 launch.jpg
The rocket was seen from Lompoc Airport before disappearing into low cloud cover.

A long-awaited rocket launch carrying an earth observation satellite finally took place Monday morning on the Central Coast.

Low cloud may have obscured some of the best views, but that didn’t dampen excitement for those waiting to see the launch from Vanderburgh Space Force Base, at 11:12 a.m. on Monday.

An orange flash…and it was gone into the clouds. For crowds gathered at Lompoc Airport, that's all they saw of Landsat 9's launch into space, aboard Atlas 5 rocket.

But even though we only caught a glimpse…there was no missing the thunderous roar overhead.

It’s the 2000th launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The Landsat 9 is a NASA satellite, which will reach a final orbital altitude of 438 miles.

It will provide data on the Earth’s surface says Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen - associate administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

"Not only are we looking at this Earth, but we are providing all these information to these communities within United States and beyond.

"For us, Landsat is a critical piece of the entire portfolio and a contextual piece to all the science we do focused on our most beautiful planet - the Earth."

Among the spectators – space fans who had travelled for miles, and proud family and friends of those who had worked on the mission.

One told me they had travelled 3,000 miles from Maryland. Another family had travelled from Sacramento to see a rocket launch for the first time.

And while locals on the Central Coast may be used to the launches by now – Gilda Cordova from Visit Lompoc says they are a welcome boost for tourism in the area.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.