Italian satellite launch lights up local skies, rumbles the South County

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — The launch of an Italian satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday night lit up the skies of San Luis Obispo County and rumbled eardrums in the South County on its way to Earth orbit.

The satellite reached space late in the night on a mission to image the Earth.

The COSMO satellite, developed for the Italian Space Agency and Italian Ministry of Defense, was boosted into orbit at 7:34 p.m. after being launched aboard a Boeing rocket from Vandenberg.

The satellite, which carries a radar imager, will be part of a constellation of four orbiting probes that will collect data on floods, droughts, earthquakes and landslides.

It’s the first to be launched, and a second was expected to lift off from Vandenberg later this year.

Italian space officials expect the fully functional system to beam back up to 1,800 images of the Earth a day.