Elon Musk owned SpaceX completes its first polar orbit mission as Falcon 9’s booster nails off-shore landing

  • Elon Musk-owned SpaceX launched three satellites this morning and successfully recovered Falcon 9’s booster.
  • The booster used for the SAOCOM 1B launch has now successfully been used for four missions but is yet to break the current record — six successful launches.
  • The booster’s successful return also marks SpaceX's first polar orbit mission from Florida.
In the wee hours of the morning in India, on the other side of the world, SpaceX was busy getting its signature Falcon 9 rocket back in action.

Not only did it place Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B satellite and two smaller piggyback satellites into Earth’s orbit, Elon Musk’s space company also completed its first polar orbit mission from Florida.

Instead of making use of the Earth’s gravitation spin to reach low orbits like usual, the rocket flew south along the US’ eastern coast instead along a flight path that’s known as the polar corridor.

Falcon 9’s reusable booster also made headway with a rare off-shore landing. The booster, which is normally caught somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, was successfully made to touch down in Cape Canaveral.

Falcon 9‘s SAOCOM 1B mission — from launch to landing
SpaceX launched Argentina’s Earth-observation satellite SAOCOM 1B along with two smaller piggyback satellites off the coast for Florida in the US at around 4:48 am Indian Standard Time (IST).


Falcon 9 takes from Cape Canaveral with the SAOCOM 1B satellite onboardSpaceX

Nine minutes into its journey towards outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, the booster’s first stage created its usual sonic booms as it made its way back to the landing zone back on the planet.

Falcon 9's booster flies back to Earth after separating from the main rocketSpaceX

The sonic booms aren’t just for show. It’s the sounds of the booster dancing through an orbital ballet as it gets into position for landing. Once it was in the right place, the booster conducted a series of three engine burns in order to slow itself down to gently touchdown.

Falcon 9's booster at it touches down over Landing Zone 1 in Cape CanaveralSpaceX

Usually, SpaceX has two ships that it uses for booster recovery, Of Course I Still Love You and Just Ready the Instructions. These uniquely named floating platforms are usually found drifting out in the Atlantic Ocean enabling SpaceX to launch rockets more frequently.

This time, Falcon 9’s booster made its way to Landing Zone-1 on solid ground of sea.

The SAOCOM 1B mission was originally scheduled for March but was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

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