Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground

SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground

Now standing just ~1400 feet away from the SLC-4E pad, B1048 could very likely become the first booster SpaceX launches three times - perhaps as soon as November or December, depending on its condition after landing.

In the launch, scheduled for shortly after 7:20 p.m., a Falcon 9 rocket will carry the satellite SAOCOM 1A to space.

After it separated from the second stage, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket arrested its forward movement, and began falling back toward Earth.

"During the landing attempt, residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear one or more sonic booms", according to the advisory.

SpaceX has previously landed first stage rockets on land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.

The primary objective of the mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also wanted to expand its recovery of first stages to its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Elon Musk put it a little more bluntly: "This won't be subtle", he wrote on Twitter.

But as always, the landing was a secondary objective.

Saocom-1A is a 3,000-kilogram synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite for the Argentine space agency CONAE that was contracted in 2009 for a launch in 2012.

Known as plume interaction, the phenomena has been known to produce extraordinary visual effects and the launch of SAOCOM 1A was certainly no exception. The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX's landing zone, not far from the launch pad. SpaceX's landing record now stands at 30 successful booster recoveries, 11 at Cape Canaveral, one at Vandenberg and 18 on droneships.

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