SpaceX didn’t wind up launching two rockets on the same day after all, but it did manage just before sunset to send up one carrying a satellite for Argentina that can monitor the environment for things such as landslides or oil spills.
At 7:19 p.m. a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM 1B satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 40. It was SpaceX’s first-ever polar orbit launch from the Cape, meaning the payload will fly along the eastern coast of Florida.
The satellite is part of a two-satellite system. SpaceX launched the first in fall 2018.
About eight minutes after launch, the rocket’s recycled first-stage booster, which has flown three other times, stuck a perfect landing back on the ground at the Cape. SpaceX’s Ms. Chief recovery ship also will attempt to retrieve the faring halves, the very top part of the rocket, after the satellites inside are deployed.
Two other smaller satellites, GNOMES 1 and Tyvak 0172, also were on board and deployed. The first was developed by Colorado-based PlanetiQ to help with weather forecasts; the second was built by California-based Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, but few details about the satellite’s purpose have been released.
The successful launch followed a scrub earlier in the day. SpaceX called off a Starlink launch that was scheduled for 10:12 a.m. “due to inclement weather during pre-flight operations,” opting to reschedule it for Tuesday at 9:29 a.m.
Both the Starlink and Argentinian satellites had been slated to ride atop Falcon 9 rockets but from different pads.
The Starlink launch is set to deliver the 12th batch of satellites into low Earth orbit as part of SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s vision to create a constellation of satellites that can provide affordable internet to even remote parts of the planet.
Since the program started last May, SpaceX has been sending up satellites in rapid succession and hopes to have enough in place to provide coverage to all of North America by the end of 2020. Beta testing of internet speeds already has begun.
Staff writer Mark Skoneki contributed to this report. Want more space news? Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Email the reporter at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @bycarolineglenn.
World news – US – SpaceX launches satellite for Argentina after scrub of morning Starlink launch