SpaceX launches satellite for Argentina into polar orbit

SpaceX launched a satellite for Argentina's space agency from Florida on Sunday evening that will monitor weather and agricultural conditions.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite at 7:18 p.m. EDT from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Clouds that had threatened a delay cleared right before launch time.

The Argentine mission was the first polar orbit launch from Cape Canaveral in more than 50 years. To reach that orbit, the rocket headed south over the Atlantic Ocean. Most other launches from Florida fly east.

The Falcon 9 passed over Cuba, and the first stage booster flew back to near the launch complex and touched down on land.

Argentina's satellite had been scheduled for launch in March, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Argentine agency, known as CONAE for the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (National Commission of Space Activities).

The launch had been set for Friday night, but another planned launch - United Launch Alliance's rocket carrying a U.S. spy satellite - bumped the Argentine mission to Sunday.

The spy satellite launch, however, was aborted three seconds before liftoff early Saturday morning. ULA said it would take at least a week to ready the rocket for another attempt.

The first of two SAOCOM satellites went into orbit in October 2018. According to the mission description for the program, the satellite's data on soil moisture "will help producers know the best time for sowing, fertilizing and irrigation, in crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat and sunflower."

Source: United Press International

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Washington DC (UPI) Aug 18, 2019
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