Angelenos thought the end was finally here when they looked up Friday evening to see something that appeared to be an iridescent alien ship exploding across the sky.
“What the hell was that?” one panicked observer tweeted. “Wtf is flying through the sky in Hollywood? #aliens.” “What is happening over Hollywood right now?” Mesmerized drivers pulled over to the sides of roads to film the mesmerizing phenomenon.
“I was driving home heading west on the 10 Freeway and saw what looked like a burning comet flying southwards across the sky,” said Santa Monica resident Frances Tracy-Black. “It looked like a missile and then turned into a condom-shaped plume of smoke as it appeared to split in two.”
“Drivers all around me slowed to a crawl to watch it,” Tracy-Black added, “even though there was no traffic, and tons of cars started pulling over to get out to watch and film it. It was wild. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Relax, Earthlings. It was a domestic “ship” — the SpaceX launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in Santa Barbara County. It is carrying the Iridium Next communications satellites.
People were so freaked that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department had to send out a calming tweet.
The spectacular light show occurred because the rocket was launched 30 minutes after sunset, still time to capture the light of the sun. Both the rocket’s searing flame and the exhaust plume — illuminated at high altitude by the sun — lit up the sky. The launch “could be impressive,” noted an understated comment on the Vandenberg website.
“That was insane!!! Thanks for scaring the shit out of everyone in California Space X!!!” gushed an Instagram post.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, though, set everyone straight.