SpaceX first: Rocket booster lands at West Coast site

In this image made from video provided by SpaceX a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Argentinian satellite blasts off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles on Sunday Oct. 7 2018. The

Vandenberg has warned people in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties that they might hear multiple sonic booms as the Falcon 9's first stage touches down at the base's Landing Zone 4.

It was the first time SpaceX landed a first-stage booster back at its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 209 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles.

CONAE was one of the company's first customers, signing up for two Falcon 9 launches back when SpaceX had only flown the smaller Falcon 1 vehicle.

There have been 30 successful SpaceX booster landings in all, including the at-sea and on-land touchdowns in Florida.

The satellite is the first of two that will be used for emergency management and for land monitoring.

The primary objective of the SpaceX mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also wanted to expand its recovery of first stages to its launch site at Vandenberg.

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To put the satellite into the intended polar orbit, the Falcon 9 quickly arced away to the south over the Pacific Ocean, smoothly accelerating as it consumed its liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants and lost weight.

The reusable booster assembly makes the use of rockets more affordable for a wide range of customers across the globe.

The landing came after SpaceX launched the SAOCOM 1A Earth observation satellite for Argentina's national commission on space activities at 7:21 p.m. By that year the launch had slipped to 2014, and would continue to slip further as Falcon 9 explosions in 2015 and 2016 compounded earlier delays. SpaceX confirmed as much during its SAOCOM 1A webcast. The mission's main goal is to collect soil moisture information. That almost identical satellite will launch in "the near future", also on a Falcon 9, according to the mission narrator for the Saocom-1A webcast.

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

SpaceX founder Elon Musk was a bit more succinct in a pre-launch tweet: "Sonic boom warning".

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