Elon Musk's rocket company launched a commercial satellite for Argentina on Sunday evening, marking SpaceX's 17th mission of 2018 in the type of steady success that so far has eluded his electric vehicle maker Tesla. SpaceX confirmed as much during its SAOCOM 1A webcast. SpaceX had earlier landed first stage rockets after Florida launches, but last night's was the company's first on the West Coast.
The SpaceX Falcon 9's first stage booster stuck its landing in the center of LZ-4, SpaceX new landing pad which is located now at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff.
A burst of light could be seen over the Californian city for a number of minutes as the spacecraft, an Argentinian Earth-observation satellite, detached from its booster in the night sky.
The satellite will be operated by Argentina's space agency, known as the National Commission on Space Activites or by its Spanish-language acronym, CONAE. The company views ground-based rocket landings as better for expediting reuse, since drone ship landings require time to return to port.
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SpaceX on Sunday successfully launched its first West Coast satellite. The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at the air force base at 7.21 pm local time.
Jeff Nguyen of CBS Los Angeles reports from Ventura, California.
The second stage continued the flight to the satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit.
As the biggest antenna in space for a civil mission, its main goal is to gather soil moisture information.
SAOCOM 1, together with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation, make up the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management, or SIASGE. Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.