Space X Launch Lights Up Bay Area Skies

Jo Lloyd
October 8, 2018

Earlier, the launch had been planned for Saturday, but SpaceX said Wednesday it was rescheduling the launch and would use the extra time to complete pre-flight checks. "We're all very excited".

SpaceX first started leasing the California landing space from the Air Force in 2015 but only recently received an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to make a return landing of this sort, Wired reports.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM-1A Earth-observation satellite launches from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 7, 2018. The rocket plume is expected to be illuminated by the sun after the launch at 7:21 p.m. Sunday. But that's possible only when launching relatively light payloads to not-too-distant orbits; on other missions, there's not enough fuel left for the Falcon 9 first stage to maneuver all the way back to land.

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

The rocket will be carrying an Argentinian Earth-observing satellite, known as SAOCOM-1A, into orbit. SpaceX has several other missions planned for this year, including the Falcon 9 launches of another 10 Iridium Next satellites, Es'hailSat's Es'hail-2, and the U.S. Air Force's first GPS-3 satellite.

SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring.

SAOCOM-1A's radar measurements will track soil-moisture levels, thereby aiding forecasts of crop yields. The second satellite will be SAOCOM 1B. CONAE will operate the satellite as part of the Argentine-Italian System of Satellites with the Italian Space Agency, coordinating observations with Italy's four Cosmo-Skymed X-band SAR satellites.

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