SpaceX successfully launched and deployed three RADARSAT Canadian satellites into orbit this morning. Despite heavy fog, the company also landed the Falcon 9 rocket on the California coast. The Verge reports: The trio of satellites going up on today’s flight are part of the RADARSAT Constellation developed by the Canadian Space Agency. The spacecraft are meant to operate nearly 400 miles up, where they will observe Canada’s land and waters, as well as the Arctic. The goal is to gather data on sea ice in nearby oceans and the Great Lakes, as well as the changing ecosystems within Canada. Such information will be useful for many groups, including mariners who navigate in Arctic waters and scientists who want to understand the impact of climate change in the region. Satellite imagery from RADARSAT could also help with disaster relief.
SpaceX is using one of its used Falcon 9 rockets for the mission, a vehicle that previously flew the company’s Crew Dragon capsule on its very first flight to the International Space Station back in March. After that launch, the Falcon 9 landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic, but now it’s ready to make a ground landing on the opposite coast. The first and only time that SpaceX has landed a Falcon 9 rocket on California land was in October of 2018. Nearly all of the company’s attempts to land on solid ground have been successful, save for one that missed its pad in Florida and landed in the ocean instead.