Elon Musk-founded private spaceflight company SpaceX on Sunday successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on land after delivering an Argentinian earth-observation satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The “SAOCOM 1A” satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after lift-off, SpaceX said.
Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, marking the 30th successful landing of a rocket booster for the company.
But this was SpaceX’s first land landing on the West Coast. Its previous West Coast landings had all taken place on the company’s drone ships in the Pacific Ocean.
Operated by Argentina’s Space Agency, the National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE), the satellite carries an active instrument consisting of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which works in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly the L-band.
The mission’s main purpose is to gather soil moisture information.