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

Ignacio Smith
October 8, 2018

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. Now standing just ~1400 feet away from the SLC-4E pad, B1048 could very likely become the first booster SpaceX launches three times - perhaps as soon as November or December, depending on its condition after landing.

Southern California residents are being warned to expect a large sonic boom Sunday evening as SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, then attempts its first-ever landing on the West Coast, according to the company and military officials.

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SpaceX has previously landed first stage rockets on land after Florida launches but has not done so on the West Coast. "Sonic boom warning", Musk wrote.

Cheers went up from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., as webcams showed the first stage setting itself down on Landing Zone 4. It's the 30th successful landing of a rocket booster. All previous recoveries in California used a drone ship to land boosters out at sea. Once again, the light is from a SpaceX launch.

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Two minutes and 20 seconds after liftoff, now well out of the dense lower atmosphere, the Merlin engines shut down, the first stage was jettisoned and a single engine powering the Falcon 9's second stage ignited for a planned 10-minute burn.

SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year. The satellite is created to provide radar imagery to help emergency responders and monitor the environment, including the collection of soil moisture measurements.

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SpaceX has a goal of using the boosters up to ten times with little maintenance, and 100 with refurbishment, as well as being able to relaunch boosters 24 hours after landing.

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