SpaceX successfully launched and landed its Falcon 9 rocket this week, marking a historic first-ever landing on the California coast. It was the rocket’s 62nd flight and its 12th ground landing.
What was unusual about the landing was that the previous 11 ground landings took place in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This time, the vehicle was landed on a concrete landing pad near the launch site, not a drone ship in the ocean.
The landing pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been operational since 2015, but SpaceX was only able to obtain the license this summer.
Falcon 9’s task was to send a 3,500-pound satellite, SAOCOM 1A, on behalf of Argentina’s space agency. The satellite is equipped with the radar to help respond to emergencies and natural disasters, as well as to gather data for the agricultural industry. Its twin satellite will also be sent on the Falcon 9 in 2019.