Saocom-1A is a 3,000-kilogram synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite for the Argentine space agency CONAE that was contracted in 2009 for a launch in 2012.
SpaceX is targeting Sunday, October 7 for the launch of the SAOCOM 1A satellite from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This will be SpaceX's first landing attempt on the ground at Vandenberg.
The descent was heralded in dramatic fashion by loud sonic booms that rumbled across Southern California as the rocket homed in on its landing pad.
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. You can expect more rocket landings after this, then. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk warned that the booms "won't be subtle". People located in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties might even be able to hear a sonic boom from the launch, which could also create a "spectacular" light show, according to ABC 7.
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Land landings aren't threatened by storms like ocean landings are, and they also allow SpaceX to refurbish the boosters faster, as they don't need to be recovered from sea.
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. Once again, the light is from a SpaceX launch.
Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit.
The satellite is the first of two that will be used for emergency management and for land monitoring.