SpaceX Carries Out the First Polar Orbit Launch from Florida Since Late 60s
Sunday, August 30th, marked the day when SpaceX successfully launched the SAOCOM 1B Earth-observing satellite for Argentina's space agency, CONAE. It also launched a commercial radar imaging satellite for Capella Space, as well as a weather data satellite for PlanetiQ, per Digital Trends.
The space company's Falcon 9 rocket flew up from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 7:18 pm ET, on the fourth outing for this booster.
Yesterday's launch marked SpaceX's 15th launch this year. It also marked the first time since March this year that a booster managed an on-shore landing.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed at Landing Zone 1 pic.twitter.com/0y5FkVqPk8— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2020
As planned, SAOCOM 1B deployed from Falcon 9 exactly 14 minutes past liftoff. The other two satellites were deployed about an hour after liftoff.
SpaceX had, in fact, planned for a double launch yesterday, with two different Falcon 9 rockets launching just hours apart.
The first launch was due to carry Starlink satellites up into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, neighboring Cape Canaveral. However, bad weather conditions pushed that launch back, per Space. This particular launch has been rescheduled for September 1st.
After launching SAOCOM 1B and two rideshare payloads to orbit, Falcon 9’s first stage returns to Earth and lands at Landing Zone 1 — completing SpaceX’s first polar orbit mission from Florida pic.twitter.com/dOeZEaKFAR— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 31, 2020
For SAOCOM 1B's launch, however, the weather cooperated. And it's a good thing given the initial launch was due for March this year, but due to the current global situation, it was moved back until yesterday.
SAOCOM stands for Satélite Argentino de Observación Con Microondas (Argentine Microwaves Observation Satellite) and is a two-satellite program that costs approximately $600 million including both launches. SAOCOM 1A lifted off in October 2018, also thanks to SpaceX.
Both SAOCOM satellites are on a polar-orbiting journey that will see them flying over both poles on Earth.
Deployment of SAOCOM 1B confirmed pic.twitter.com/gqtxQMpy48— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2020
The beauty with yesterday's launch is that the Falcon 9 rocket landed perfectly back at its base just eight minutes after liftoff.
Videos and images of SAOCOM 1B and Falcon 9 successfully launching have been shared by SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, as well as the company itself. You can also have a look at the launch below: