SpaceX Successfully Launches SAOCOM 1A

Cristina Cross
October 10, 2018

It was the first time SpaceX landed a first-stage booster back at its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 210 kilometres north-west of Los Angeles. The satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff. The rocket plume is expected to be illuminated by the sun after the launch at 7:21 p.m. Sunday.

The Air Force had advised the people in Central California about seeing mysterious lights and also sounds of engine booms while the first stage returned back to its base.

It marked the first time that SpaceX has pulled off its rocket recovery method on land on the West Coast, reported Xinhua.

SpaceX calls its California touchdown site Landing Zone 4, presumably because it's part of Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 4 (SLC-4).

Share this article: A view of the SpaceX launch from Simi Valley.

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Saocom-1A is a 3,000-kilogram synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite for the Argentine space agency CONAE that was contracted in 2009 for a launch in 2012.

The reusable booster assembly makes the use of rockets more affordable for a wide range of customers across the globe. This mission has the main aim to gather soil moisture information. SpaceX confirmed as much during its SAOCOM 1A webcast.

The second stage continued the flight to the satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit. The mission will also help planners and emergency-management officials keep tabs on wildfires, floods and other disasters.

That almost identical satellite will launch in "the near future", also on a Falcon 9, according to the mission narrator for the Saocom-1A webcast.

The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency. Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.

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