December 11, 2018

SpaceX launches rocket over San Diego, then sticks the landing

09 October 2018, 05:14 | Edward Lowe

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from a launch pad in Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from a launch pad in Florida

The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency, the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and will work in conjunction with a constellation of Italian space agency satellites. While many people's first instinct was to think aliens were en route, it was, in fact, a SpaceX rocket launch.

While the company says this is the 30th landing of a booster, this is the first land touchdown on the West Coast - the rest have happened on land in Florida and from platforms out at sea.

The success achieved in the safe return of the first stage is significant for SpaceX as the company is looking at a reduction in launch cost through such measures.

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Despite repeated warnings during the week in the build-up to the launch, it appears many residents in California didn't get the memo. "This won't be subtle".

SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperture radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring. "The rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:21 p.m. and landed safely back on Earth".

SpaceX has a second CONAE satellite, Saocom-1B, that it is also tasked with launching.

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To put the satellite into the intended polar orbit, the Falcon 9 quickly arced away to the south over the Pacific Ocean, smoothly accelerating as it consumed its liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants and lost weight.

Previous tests sent the first stage to offshore barges, not back to launch site. Nearing the top of the discernible atmosphere, the booster fired the engines again to slow down for re-entry. But a successful landing would mean the company would no longer have to rely only on its drone ship for post-launch landings, according to Wired. The satellite was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket, deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff, and delivered to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

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