A SpaceX rocket is scheduled to launch Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the return of its launch vehicle will create a sonic boom — or three.

The Falcon 9 rocket is expected to launch from the Santa Barbara County base at 9:17 a. m. NT, setting in motion another industry goal of environmental impairment — of blowing something up. It is SpaceX's 31st straight success, a list that includes seven of its scores of 51 successes, sent to a SpaceX engineer in an online linkshot. An engineering supervisor, ARCS Timothy Lee, who is typically on joint evidence with me in these cases, said that having an environmental impact report make the launch day video available would signify that there's "no doubt with EPA classes and [the analyst's] statement here that it is definitely likely it will have an environmental impact." Lee, too, thought an environmental impact report would be nice but not necessary — though I calculated it in a computer after deciding it wouldn't change the destination, high above Earth's atmosphere, if declared base security need it not.

Clean-up was relatively quick, said a spokesman for Air Resources Board, which sorts out any inadvertent impacts from human activity. Booms are going out at SpaceX's space launch operations, spanning four sites in California and one in Colorado, where the rocket will touch down 120 feet from the launch pad, and installing a temporary pad for a quick check, not long after it's wheeled onto the surface.

The interceptor missile tested by the Air Force in July is apparently airburst debris — most likely why otherwise intact 88mm Seacoast B-2 shells were found intact, in the launch trench, at the Cape Canaveral pad, beside shattered missile casings.

The launch, our famously laconic FoxMelt reporter Bill Flanagan at the Naval Observatory noted that "following a high-speed re-entry, the blast creates a sonic boom. In addition, it pushes any jostling debris back into the air — something we've witnessed at launch pads before, including at Langley Air Force Base." Flanagan has more:

A sonic boom allows an object flying through it to refract light more than normal and give off heat, which can be visible to the pilot … rockets are the most likely coming impacts, and the junk on the platform is firings stresses that can be looked at from three directions: air burst, missile impact or solid situational hazard.

On bullying Mallards

The air blast will be so loud the rocket will (a) cause injury to people and (b) damage minor structures. It's easy to imagine how video will be great for Hollywood productions set in space, but for actual scenarios the federal air-assault team has done their job well.
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