SpaceX has launched the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.

A Falcon 9 rocket was used to launch the satellite, which was deployed around 12 minutes after liftoff.

After completing separation, the rocket’s first stage landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

This development represents SpaceX’s first effort to land the rockets first-stage back on the West Coast.

Argentina’s Space Agency, National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE) is the operator of the SAOCOM 1A satellite. SAOCOM 1A is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that is designed to work in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly the L-band.

The overall SAOCOM 1 mission features a constellation of two identical satellites, SAOCOM 1A and 1B.

“Each SAOCOM 1 satellite has been developed to collect information on soil moisture.”

Equipped with an L-Band SAR polarimetric instrument, each SAOCOM 1 satellite has been developed to collect information on soil moisture.

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SAOCOM 1 and Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR satellite constellation form the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management (SIASGE), a partnership between CONAE and Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Both SAOCOM 1 and COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellations operate from the same orbital position to support a rapid response by offering SAR information in emergency situations.

They receive ground support from the European Space Agency (ESA), with technical support from Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Nasa.

In addition, CONAE has developed the SAOCOM project in line with Argentina’s National Space Program and in collaboration with a number of companies and organisations,  including Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA).

INVAP is the project’s primary contractor.