Vandenberg launches SpaceX’s Falcon 9

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Air Force photograph by Tech Sgt. Jim Araos

On Oct. 7 at 7:21 p.m., PDT, SpaceX successfully launched the SAOCOM 1A satellite from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg.

This was SpaceX’s first land landing on the West Coast.

LZ-4 is built on the former site of Space Launch Complex 4W, from which Titan rockets were previously launched.

The SAOCOM 1A satellite is operated by Argentina’s Space Agency, the National Commission on Space Activities. The satellite carries an active instrument consisting of a Synthetic Aperture Radar, which works in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly the L-band.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SAOCOM 1A satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 7:21 p.m., PDT. SpaceX completed the secondary mission of landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at Landing Zone 4, which was previously called SLC-4W, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This was SpaceX’s first land landing attempt at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The SAOCOM 1A satellite is operated by Argentina’s Space Agency, the National Commission on Space Activities. The satellite carries an active instrument consisting of a Synthetic Aperture Radar, which works in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly the L-band.

The SAOCOM 1 mission consists of a constellation of two identical satellites, SAOCOM 1A and 1B, each of which carries an L-Band SAR polarimetric instrument.

The mission’s main purpose is to gather soil moisture information. SAOCOM 1, together with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation, comprise the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management, a partnership between CONAE and the Italian Space Agency. Flying both constellations along the same orbit supports a rapid response by providing SAR information in emergency situations. International partnerships include ground support from the European Space Agency, and technical support from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.

SAOCOM was developed by CONAE within the framework of the National Space Program, with the participation of companies and organizations of the national system of science and technology like the Atomic Energy Commission and companies like VENG and INVAP, who is the primary contractor of the project.
 

Separation and staging of the Falcon 9 SAOCOM rocket above Vandenberg Air Force Base, Claif., Oct. 7, 2018.