An Earth-observation satellite for Argentina along with two small piggyback satellites were successfully launched on Sunday in a Space X from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 23:18 GMT.
A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the SAOCOM-1B satellite aloft, marking the company’s 15th launch of 2020. Approximately nine minutes after liftoff, the booster's first stage produced some dramatic sonic booms as it made its way back to terra firma, touching down at SpaceX’s Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.
Sunday's flight was the fourth launch for this particular Falcon 9 first stage. The booster, designated B1059, previously lofted two commercial cargo missions to the International Space Station for NASA and delivered a batch of SpaceX Starlink satellite into orbit earlier this year.
The Falcon 9 appeared to launch straight up as it climbed to orbit. The skies above the space coast were cloudy but you could hear the Falcon 9 long after it was out of sight.
Thick clouds made it hard to track the first stage on its downward trek. Suddenly it appeared in the sky, with the iconic sonic booms you expect cracking overhead as the booster descended to the landing site.
SAOCOM-1B deployed from the Falcon 9's upper stage as planned 14 minutes after liftoff. The two rideshare satellites, GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172, were scheduled to deploy about an hour after launch.
SAOCOM-1B radar Earth-observing satellite, launching for Argentina's space agency, the Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE). SAOCOM, short for Satélite Argentino de Observación COn Microondas (Argentine Microwaves Observation Satellite), is a two-satellite program with a total price tag of about US$ 600 million, including launches. SpaceX lofted the first SAOCOM spacecraft, SAOCOM-1A, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in October 2018.