Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

SpaceX launches Argentine satellite, posts first ground-landing on West Coast

SpaceX launches Argentine satellite, posts first ground-landing on West Coast

Unspent fuel from the rocket was illuminated by rays from the setting sun, making the contrail visible across wide areas of California. This will be SpaceX's first landing attempt on the ground at Vandenberg.

The 30th Space Wing said in a news release Tuesday that Central Coast residents may see the first stage of the Falcon 9 returning to Vandenberg.

The company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.

It will be SpaceX's first time trying to land one of its reusable rockets on the West Coast.

In keeping with that vision, tonight marked the second flight for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, which also helped loft 10 Iridium Next commercial communications satellites from Vandenberg on July 25.

The launch, employing the upgraded Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket, remained scheduled for 7:21 p.m. Finally, dropping straight down toward Landing Zone 4, the rocket's four landing legs deployed, a single engine re-started and the booster settled to a picture-perfect touchdown in a cloud of smoke.

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If anything goes wrong during the launch and landing, there is a risk of explosion.

As The Verge noted, SpaceX hasn't been making sea landings by choice.

Viewers took to social media to speculate on the rocket, which was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

SAOCOM 1A 3,000-kilogram satellite built by INVAP and this deployment was done in conjunction with Argentina's space agency with the objective of radar-imaging the earth. It carries carries a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar to be used for emergency management and land monitoring, The Associated Press reported. Its name is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.

The satellite's twin, SAOCOM-1B, will also launch on a Falcon 9; its liftoff is targeted for next year.

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