SpaceX to launch and land Falcon 9 rocket from Southern California

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center.                  SpaceX

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX

SpaceX used the same first stage for the Saocom-1A mission that launched 10 satellites for Iridium about 10-and-a-half weeks ago, also from Vandenberg. The booster, meanwhile, relit its engines to maneuver itself for the return trip to SpaceX's landing zone, not far from the launch pad.

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. 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.

The Falcon 9, now on base at California's SpaceX launch pad will take off on Sunday night at 7:21 p.m. PT, with a mission to launch an Argentinean Earth-observing satellite into orbit, and then touch back down in a new landing zone located just a quarter mile away from takeoff, Wired reported.

SpaceX conducted its seventeenth launch of the year October 7, sending an Argentine radar satellite into low-Earth orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket.

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Proving out a successful booster retrieval system on the West Coast marks another step in SpaceX's drive to increase rocket reusability and as a result drive down the cost of access to space. But a successful landing would mean the company would no longer have to rely only on its drone ship for post-launch landings, according to Wired.

The rocket will carry the Argentinian SOACOM 1A radar mapping satellite.

Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit. The rocket boosted an Argentine environmental satellite into orbit. The satellite is created to provide radar imagery to help emergency responders and monitor the environment, including the collection of soil moisture measurements. Prior landings have taken place on the East Coast.

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