SpaceX finally launched Italy Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite after the mission was postponed four times. The mission was delayed three times due to unfavorable weather conditions along Florida’s Coast. And on Monday, January 30, it was scrubbed a fourth time minutes before liftoff because a cruise ship sailed into an exclusion zone under the rocket’s planned flight path. On January 31st, a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 6:11 p.m. EST from Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to propel the CSG-2 satellite to orbit.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/aJG87rLr0U— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 31, 2022
Tuesday’s launch broadcast was incredible to watch because SpaceX shared a unique view of the moment when Falcon 9’s first-stage booster separated from the upper-stage (payload fairing section) – a view that the company does not usually broadcast. It was impressive to watch the giant rocket booster detach from the upper-stage and descend back to Earth from orbit, video below. The Falcon 9 is around 70-meters-tall. “16 story tall rocket, traveling several times faster than a bullet, backflips & fires engines to return to launch site,” said SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter.
16 story tall rocket, traveling several times faster than a bullet, backflips & fires engines to return to launch site— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 31, 2022
Approximately 8-minutes after propelling the upper-stage to orbit, the first-stage booster landed flawlessly on Landing Zone-1. The rocket is identified as booster B1052-3; It previously was one of the cores that made-up a Falcon Heavy rocket. SpaceX connects three modified Falcon 9 first-stage boosters together to create a heavy-lift launch vehicle that generates over 5 million pounds of thrust with its 27 Merlin 1D engines. The booster core that will launch CSG-2 was part of the Falcon Heavy rocket that launched Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat-6A communications satellite and the U.S. military Space Test Program 2 (STP-2) mission in 2019. The CSG-2 mission marks the first time that engineers reconfigure a Falcon Heavy booster core into a Falcon 9. Now, with three flights under its grid fins (under its belt) SpaceX can refurbish it to reuse on a future spaceflight. Today’s rocket recovery was SpaceX’s 104th landing of an orbital-class rocket booster. SpaceX is currently the only aerospace company in the world that is able to frequently land and reuse orbital-class rockets.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 1 pic.twitter.com/Vfc7UDaeun— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 31, 2022
Around 1-hour after liftoff, the Italian COSMO-SkyMed satellite was released to orbit by the upper-stage payload fairing (video clip shown below). The development of COSMO-SkyMed is funded by the Italian Ministry of Research and Ministry of Defense. The CSG-2 satellite is designed to monitor the Earth to assist in emergency response operations and military defense strategy, as well as serve for Earth science research. It is equipped with advanced radar technology to assess specific locations on Earth to enable environmental assessment, forest protection, natural resources exploration, land management for food agriculture, cartography, and even maritime surveillance. The first satellite in the fleet, named CSG-1, was successfully launched in 2019 from French Guiana aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket operated/owned by Arianespace.
Deployment of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 confirmed pic.twitter.com/uT07VHNRrF— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 1, 2022
The Italian Space Agency typically launches payload aboard French Arianespace launch vehicles. It planned to launch the COSMO SkyMed CSG-2 Earth observation satellite aboard an upgraded version of Arianespace’s Vega rocket that is under development called ‘VEGA-C’. However, a set of Arianespace rocket failures led the Italian agency to switch launch provider in late-September 2021. The agency decided to launch the second COSMO-SkyMed satellite, CSG-2, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 instead.
Featured Images Source: SpaceX Broadcast
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