For a month, from late August to late September this year, I tracked the launch preparations for SpaceX's maiden launch of its Falcon 9R rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, CA. I published updates and photos on this blog. After multiple delays throughout the month, the launch date was set for September 29, 2013, with a launch window of 9-11 a.m. PDT, and a second possible window 24 hours later.
The launch was breathtakingly beautiful and occurred as soon as the window opened, on a perfect Sunday morning, under brilliantly blue skies - which is rare for summer mornings at VAFB, where fog and low clouds are common.
This was SpaceX's first launch from its home state of California.
Here is a video with a sequence of photos we took as we watched Falcon 9R and Cassiope ascend into orbit. After the launch, we did some reconnaissance around the area and discovered a public viewing area that put us 5 miles closer to the launch pad.