SpaceX has once again made history on Sunday night after successfully launching a previously used Falcon 9 rocket.
Another SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched into space Sunday night from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This time, the Elon Musk-owned private space company has aced another first: landing a Falcon rocket on the West Coast.
SpaceX has already launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg before. However, the rocket ship landed back in the company’s offshore drone ship in the Pacific known as Just Read the Instructions. Last night’s launch was initially scheduled on Saturday. Unfortunately, some last minute checks delayed the launch for 24 hours.
Sunday night’s launch mission saw the delivery of Argentina’s latest Earth-observing satellite, SAOCOMM-1A, into space. The SAOCOMM 1 mission will be studying the Earth’s soil moisture with the help of radar readings from two low Earth orbits satellites, SAOCOMM 1A and 1B.
People from across the West Coast witnessed the momentous event, with some capturing how the Falcon 9 lit up California’s night sky. Below was an amateur video taken by San Fernando Valley resident Charmagne Sunga from a Ralphs grocery parking lot.
A few minutes after the launch, the rocket’s second-stage booster initiated separation from the first-stage booster, pushing the ship upward into space. Meanwhile, the first-stage boost reignited its engines following the booster separation and maneuvered itself back into SpaceX’s landing zone in Vandenberg safely.
Usually, a Falcon 9 rocket’s landing spot depends on its payload. Landing on soil uses up a lot of fuel unlike landing on a drone ship. So, missions that send heavy cargos into space have to land on the company’s drone ship positioned in the ocean. Falcon 9 on launches with lighter payloads, like the SAOCOMM-1A satellite, land on the soil.
Amid a media storm surrounding SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s dealings with the SEC, this comes as a welcome PR boost for the founder and his tech empire.