Featured Image Source: SpaceX / CONAE
SpaceX is preparing to conduct a mission for CONAE, the 'National Space Activities Commission' of Argentina. The mission will consist of deploying SAOCOM-1B, an Earth-imaging satellite, into Polar Orbit atop a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch will be unique because Florida’s coast has not conducted rocket flights to Polar Orbit in a bit over half a century.
The mission was previously scheduled to liftoff in March but was postponed amid the Coronavirus outbreak that swept the globe. Due to travel restrictions, Argentinian engineers were unable to travel to prepare the satellite before launch. Today, SpaceX is scheduled to launch SAOCOM-1B at 7:18 p.m. EDT. “Weather continues to be 40% favorable for liftoff,” SpaceX stated. Two hitchhiking payloads will ride alongside the SAOCOM-1B satellite to orbit, these are: Tyvak-0172 and PlanetiQ’s GNOMES-1. You can watch the launch Live in the video linked below.
Targeting launch of SAOCOM 1B at 7:18 p.m. EDT tonight. Falcon 9 and SAOCOM 1B are vertical on SLC-40. Weather continues to be 40% favorable for liftoff pic.twitter.com/jCIYnIc8Ju— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2020
The thrice flown Falcon 9’s first-stage booster previously deployed the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station during SpaceX’s 19th and 20th commercial resupply missions for NASA. The booster also conducted the 9th Starlink mission. Today will be its fourth flight, and engineers aim to recover the rocket again. Around eight and a half minutes after liftoff, the booster is expected to return from space to conduct a vertical landing on solid ground, at the Air Force station’s Landing Zone 1. If landing is successful, it will be SpaceX’s 59th orbital-class booster landing. Recovering rockets to reuse is key to reducing the cost of spaceflight.
– “SAOCOM 1B will deploy approximately 14 minutes after launch, GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172 will deploy approximately 61 and 62 minutes after liftoff,” the company detailed. The Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the 6,600-pound SAOCOM-1B satellite into Polar Orbit, an orbit in which it will operate around Earth’s poles at an altitude of approximately 620-kilometers. SAOCOM-1B will serve to generate early warning systems for floods, crop loss risk, monitor their country's sea against illegal fishing, and also to support the management of environmental emergencies, such as detection of oil spills at sea and monitoring of water coverage during floods, among other applications. The satellite is equipped with complex Earth observation technology featuring advanced optical sensors, known as Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR). SAR is a radar that creates 2D images or 3D visuals of landscapes on our planet. It will create 225 images per day of Argentina's surface.
Compartimos esta foto tomada en la tarde de ayer, 29 de agosto, al equipo de CONAE e @invapargentina durante la visita a la plataforma de lanzamiento en Cabo Cañaveral.— CONAE (@CONAE_Oficial) August 30, 2020
¡Estamos listos! ¡#HayEquipo!
¡Vamos #SAOCOM1B!#ArgentinaUnida #HaciaElFuturo pic.twitter.com/nlQ4Sv12jo
Once SAOCOM-1B is operational, it will be capable of detecting any weather condition on our planet's surface, it will serve as a forecast system for flooding by detecting moisture levels within the soil. Detecting soil moisture will also help Argentinian producers know the best time for planting, also give them insight on fertilization and irrigation in crops such as sunflower, wheat, soybeans, and corn. The radar's microwaves will be able to "see" at any time of the day, pass through the clouds both during the day and at night, even if it is cloudy. These characteristics make the SAOCOM 1B satellite especially useful for monitoring and mitigating natural or anthropic catastrophes.
WATCH IT LIVE!