Double purpose rocket launch: Argentine satellite for farmers and recovering first stage
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Argentine satellite has blasted off from California. The primary purpose 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.
The satellite, SAOCOM 1A will be operated by Argentina’s space agency, CONAE, and use radar sensors to track soil moisture and other indicators that help farmers decide when to plan and irrigate crops, predict pestilence, and even predict natural disasters like floods.
To put the roughly 3,000 kilogram satellite into space, Elon Musk’s team will re-use a Falcon 9 rocket booster that flew for the first time in July, 2018. It is one of the company’s “Block 5” Falcon 9 rockets—the final evolution of the vehicle before the company’s designers turn to a new rocket that may carry a billionaire tourist to the moon.