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Launch Photos: SpaceX's Next-Gen Falcon 9 Rocket Soars on 1st Flight

Falcon 9 Launch Trajectory Composite

David A. Kodama

Photographer David A. Kodama took this composite image capturing the unmanned, next-generation Falcon 9 rocket launch trajectory as it blasted off from the SpaceX launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) on Sept. 29. [Read the Story Behind the Photo Here]

Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket Lifts Off

SpaceX

The upgraded Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a successful demonstration mission to deliver the CASSIOPE satellite to orbit. Launch took place on Sept. 29, 2013. [Read the Full Story Here]

Falcon 9 Lifts Off from SpaceX’s Pad at Vandenberg, September 2013

SpaceX

Falcon 9 lifts off from SpaceX’s pad at Vandenberg, carrying Canada's CASSIOPE satellite to orbit. Launch took place on Sept. 29, 2013. [Read the Full Story Here]

Distant Press View of Falcon 9 Launch

Rod Pyle

SpaceX's improved Falcon 9 left the pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sept. 29, 2013, at just after 9 am (local time). The press watched from a remote viewing site, as the blowtorch-like flame ascended. [Read the Full Story Here]

Kaylee Ausbun Watches Launch of Improved Falcon 9

Rod Pyle

Kaylee Ausbun, the Air Force officer in charge of public affairs for this launch, smiles with relief as SpaceX's improved Falcon 9 rocket departs the launch pad on Sunday. To her left is Jim Spellman of the Western Spaceport chapter of the National Space Society. [Read the Full Story Here]

Members of the Press View Falcon 9 Launch

Rod Pyle

Assembled members of the press watch as SpaceX's improved Falcon 9 rocket departs the pad on Sunday morning, Sept. 29, 2013, at Vandenburg Air Force Base, CA. [Read the Full Story Here]

Vandenberg Air Force Base Sign

Rod Pyle

Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California hosted the Sept. 29, 2013, launch of SpaceX's improved Falcon 9 rocket. Launching from the west coast allows SpaceX to place payloads into polar orbits, often essential for military satellites. [Read the Full Story Here]

LIFTOFF! SpaceX's New Falcon 9 Rocket Launches

SpaceX

SpaceX's first next-generation Falcon 9 rocket launches on its debut test flight from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 29, 2013. [Read the Full Story Here]

CASSIOPE Satellite Revealed: SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX

Canada's CASSIOPE space weather satellite can be seen atop the second stage of SpaceX's first upgraded Falcon 9 rocket in this view from a camera on the booster, just after payload fairing separation, during a test flight that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 29, 2013. [Read the Full Story Here]

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch Test: 2nd Stage

SpaceX

The second stage engine of SpaceX's new upgraded Falcon 9 rocket ignites during a test flight on Sept. 29, 2013 that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. [Read the Full Story Here]

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch Test: Stage Separation

SpaceX

The first stage of SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 rocket can be seen falling away in this view from a camera on the rocket's second stage after a test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 29, 2013. [Read the Full Story Here]

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.