Rocket's first stage lands back at launch site

Rocket's first stage lands back at launch site

The rocket, built by Elon Musk's SpaceX, was carrying the satellite SAOCOM 1A.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage will return to land at SpaceX's Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

- The launch clock remained set to 7:21 p.m. for SpaceX's launch of a satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and planned landing of the rocket booster 100 miles west of Los Angeles.

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

"Sonic boom warning. This won't be subtle", he wrote. Between then and now, the company chalked up 10 more successful landings at the Air Force Station and another 18 on off-shore droneships.

Shortly afterward SpaceX showed a shot of Falcon 9, successfully landed on landing zone 4. Residents in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties may hear sonic booms.

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Saocom-1A has an L-band payload created to study soil moisture for agriculture, disaster monitoring and scientific research.

The Air Force said before the 7:22 p.m. launch that it expected that people as far away as Sacramento and Southern California would see the rocket's contrail. Finally, dropping straight down toward Landing Zone 4, the rocket's four landing legs deployed, a single engine re-started and the booster settled to a picture-perfect touchdown in a cloud of smoke.

Later, SpaceX reported that the SAOCOM 1A radar satellite was placed in its proper pole-to-pole orbit.

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SpaceX has a goal of using the boosters up to ten times with little maintenance, and 100 with refurbishment, as well as being able to relaunch boosters 24 hours after landing.

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