SpaceX moved forward with a prearranged Falcon 9 rocket launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday morning in a move that helped the Canadian Space Agency get three of its RADARSAT constellation satellites into space such that they could orbit the Earth.
The rocket ignited its engines at approximately 10:17 A.M. Eastern time (7:17 A.M. local time), and it was only a few minutes later that the rocket’s first stage came barreling back through the Earth’s atmosphere to perform what many would call a near picture-perfect landing at Vandenberg’s LZ-4 landing pad.
According to SpaceX, the RADARSAT Constellation satellites are a part of the nation’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), which provides vital observation capabilities of the Earth’s surface for purposes such as climate change monitoring, disaster relief, and military surveillance, among other things.
The recovered booster will return to SpaceX’s facility where it can be refurbished for another launch sometime in the future. This reusable rocket platform allows SpaceX to remain profitable, all while reducing spaceflight costs across the board.