On Sunday, SpaceX launched it’s yet another mission to the orbit and back with its powerful Falcon 9 rocket. The mission was to launch an Argentinian environmental satellite into the polar orbit. Elon Musk’s SpaceX achieved another milestone too i.e. by launching the first-ever mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base and successfully performing a landing on the west coast of the United States for the first time.
The launch was scheduled at 07:21 p.m. EDT when the nine Merlin 1D engines mounted on the boosters throttled to its full capacity producing thrust capable of raising the 229-foot rocket from Launch Complex 4-East at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The mission was to launch Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A satellite which is one of the two environmental satellites that will be positioned in the polar orbit that will scan through the soil moisture piercing through the clouds to analyze crop yields, floods, and droughts.
The launch put a spectacular show for the onlookers as it was night lit by the fiery exhaust of a 229-foot rocket. After inclination to a certain altitude, the Falcon 9 quickly maneuvered towards the south over the Pacific Ocean as it trajectory to enter the polar orbit using its liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The boosters burnt for two minutes and 20 seconds when it reached a much lighter atmosphere and that’s when the boosters jettisoned from the rocket.
Now it’s the second stage which burned its single Merlin engine for 10 minutes before executing deployment. On the contrary, the first stage started its reverse course procedure by burning three of its nine engines towards the Vandenberg launch site where it fired up its engines to slow down before touch down. SpaceX developed innovative titanium grid fins that were mounted on top of the rocket’s stages that allowed it to exercise control over attitude and steering before finally, the booster landed on the ground tail-first on its four landing legs.
The second stage, on the other hand, shut down after the planned burn and finally, the SAOCOM 1A satellite was deployed in the polar orbit where it will be joined by ‘SAOCOM 1B’ to launch soon. According to CBS News, SpaceX has accomplished 17th successful flight this year including the 44th successful launch in a row. It recently added Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 Block V to its catalog that will speed up deliveries to space and beyond.