Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully completed the launch and landing of Falcon 9 on West Coast. The SAOCOM 1A satellite was put into orbit by Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Falcon 9 completed the return-to-launch-site (RTLS) landing on the West Coast which was unique as previously it has landed on company’s drone ships at sea.
SpaceX already has 30 successful landing under its belt proving that the company has excelled at recovering first-stage boosters. This landing was comparatively more complicated as the distance between the landing pad and the launch pad was only 400 metres. This distance at other similar sites such as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is several miles.
The West Coast site is known to be foggy, but surprisingly provided clear skies on the launch day. The US air force had warned the locals of a sonic boom when the Falcon 9 returns on land. A sonic boom occurs when an aircraft or vehicle travels faster than the speed of sound. Falcon 9 created some stunning visuals which were shared by locals. Elon Musk was also quick to congratulate his company on achieving this feat.
SpaceX tried to recover as much as possible from the Falcon 9 to bring the cost down. The return completed the second reflight of Block 5 Falcon 9 which had previously launched 10 Iridium Next satellite into the orbit on July 25. Block 5 is the final variant of the SpaceX’s rocket which means there would be no major design changes in the workhorse.
The Satellite SAOCOM 1A is a radar development satellite developed by Argentina’s national space agency. Part of a six-satellite system, it uses synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to monitor Earth. It will work in tandem with Italian constellation known as COSMO-SkyMed to take high-resolution images of the earth twice a day.
You can watch the replay of launch in the video below.