‘This won’t be subtle’: SpaceX West Coast launch will create sonic boom

Mindy Sparks
October 8, 2018

The primary objective of Sunday's mission is to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX will also try for the first time to bring the Falcon's first stage back to a landing at the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site. Elon Musk's company had leased a former Titan rocket launch site in 2015 to build its own landing pad, but it it hasn't received clearance. "A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves from an aircraft or vehicle traveling faster than the speed of sound".

And, less than 8 minutes after liftoff, the booster's first stage came back to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown at SpaceX's Vandenberg landing zone, just a quarter-mile (400 meters) from its launch pad.

Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit.

"This is great news for everyone here at SpaceX", Tom Praderio, a SpaceX firmware engineer, said during live launch commentary tonight.


The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency. The satellite is created to provide radar imagery to help emergency responders and monitor the environment, including the collection of soil moisture measurements.

SAOCOM 1, together with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation, make up the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management, or SIASGE. Previous re-capture missions from Vandenberg have landed the rocket on a barge floating in the Pacific Ocean, about 400 miles out to sea.

SpaceX has also been experimenting with a procedure to save additional millions of dollars by retrieving the Falcon 9's fairing, or nose cone.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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