SpaceX rocket deploys Argentine satellite

In this handout image. the NASA  German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Tuesday

Exhaust from SpaceX's latest Falcon 9 launch lit up California's night sky Sunday (October 7) as it carried Argentine satellite SAOCOM 1A into orbit.

Minutes after launch, the rocket's second stage separated from the first-stage booster and continued rising spaceward.

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.

On Sunday night-for the first time since July-SpaceX will attempt to launch a satellite into space, and then land part of the rocket back on its base. About 8 minutes after liftoff, the rocket's first stage returned and landed at Vandenberg in a first for a California-based SpaceX launch.

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Shortly afterward SpaceX showed a shot of Falcon 9, successfully landed on landing zone 4. SpaceX got in on the action themselves, sharing four photos of the dazzling light display. SpaceX's landing record now stands at 30 successful booster recoveries, 11 at Cape Canaveral, one at Vandenberg and 18 on droneships.

SAOCOM 1A is operated by Argentina's Space Agency, the National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE). It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring. This mission has the main aim to gather soil moisture information.

Shortly afterward SpaceX confirmed that SAOCOM 1A had been successfully deployed in record time.

The launch comes just days after Elon Musk was fined $20million and told he must resign as chairman of Tesla after reaching a settlement on fraud charges. It will also-in partnership with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation-assist with rapid response during natural disasters. Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.

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