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09 October 2018, 04:30 | Ross Houston
Social media lights up with SpaceX satellite launch
SpaceX launched and landed the Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday night - making it the first successful landing of an orbital class rocket booster on West Coast land.
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. After launch, the first-stage booster rocket will attempt to land at the Air Force base for the first time.
Still, Vandenberg Air Force Base had warned residents last week in nearby Lompoc and other Central California cities that they could hear "one or more" sonic booms associated with the landing of the first-stage booster.
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.
Previous tests sent the first stage to offshore barges, not back to launch site.
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Californians from Los Angeles to Sacramento - about 270 miles (435 kilometers) from the launch site - also posted their confusion. After cancelling out a velocity of roughly 2 kilometers per second in the wrong direction, B1048 dropped nearly straight down from a peak altitude of ~50 km to the landing zone, punctuated by a reentry burn used to protect the rocket from the brunt of atmospheric reentry heating.
About 12 minutes later, the SAOCOM 1A satellite was deployed into a low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket as seen from the North Coast. While many people's first instinct was to think aliens were en route, it was, in fact, a SpaceX rocket launch.
The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency. That almost identical satellite will launch in "the near future", also on a Falcon 9, according to the mission narrator for the Saocom-1A webcast. Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.
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