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SpaceX 100th mission launches Argentinian satellite to Polar Orbit

by Evelyn Arevalo August 30, 2020

SpaceX 100th mission launches Argentinian satellite to Polar Orbit

Featured Image Source: SpaceX

SpaceX was founded in 2002, since, it has revolutionized the aerospace industry by developing orbital-class rockets capable of returning from space to land vertically with the purpose of being reused. The Falcon 9 features nine Merlin 1D engines that can produce over 1.7 million pounds of thrust; the rocket’s current Block 5 iteration is developed for rapid reuse. SpaceX officials stated each first-stage booster in the Block 5 series can launch as many as 10 times with little refurbishments in between flights. The company says the rocket has potential to fly 100 times before retirement. For now, engineers aim to fly a booster 10 times. Reusability is key to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight. So far, they have re-flown a particular rocket booster 6 times.



Today, August 30, SpaceX launched its 100th mission with a thrice-flown Falcon 9. The rocket deployed payload for CONAE, the 'National Space Activities Commission' of Argentina. Under cloudy skies,  Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Station in Florida; deploying the SAOCOM-1B Earth-imaging satellite into Polar Orbit, and a pair of rideshare payloads – GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172.

"Tonight's launch is an especially exciting one. It’s SpaceX’s first polar orbit launch from the Cape – meaning that on its way to space, Falcon 9 will fly south along the eastern coast of Florida," SpaceX announced before launch. It was the first launch trajectory to Polar Orbit conducted from Florida since 1969. 

Approximately 9 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 booster returned from space to land for the first time since March on solid ground, instead of on autonomous drone ships at sea. As it approached Landing Zone-1 at the Air Force station, it produced sonic booms and landed flawlessly. It is the company’s 59th orbital-class booster landing. Now, this first-stage can be reused on a 5th flight.



Argentina’s SAOCOM-1B satellite was deployed from the Falcon 9's second-stage at 14 minutes after liftoff. The satellite will operate in Polar Orbit, around Earth’s poles at an altitude of approximately 620-kilometers. SAOCOM-1B 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. It will serve to generate early warning systems for floods, crop loss risk, and 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 rideshare satellite duo, GNOMES-1 and Tyvak-0172, deployed about 1 hour after launch. Not many details have been released about these smaller payloads.


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