SpaceX's RADARSAT Constellation Mission Lifts Off From Vandenberg Air Force Base

SpaceX is launching some Earth-observing satellites part of the Radarsat Constellation Mission on June 12

The three satellites, part of Canada's RADARSAT Constellation of Earth-observation satellites, were later successfully deployed into orbit.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster rocket breaches the top of the fog deck over Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, as it lofts Canada's RADARSAT Constellation towards space.

The booster used to launch RADARSAT had previously seen service in Florida, sending the Crew Dragon demonstrator to the International Space Station before landing on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic ocean. After another brief rocket firing to slow down for re-entry, the stage homed in on Landing Zone 4 at the Air Force base, restarting a single engine and settling to a pinpoint touchdown just a few hundred feet from the launch pad. Two Radarsat satellites have made it to Earth orbit to date.

The rocket was launched at about 17:17 Moscow time from air force base Vandenberg in California.

A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the three-satellite mission at 10:17 a.m. Wednesday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and will begin deployment about 54 minutes later.

The satellites, built by Maxar Technologies' MDA division, are created to observe Earth from sun-synchronous orbit using C-band synthetic aperture radar. This data will be used for marine disaster response, with the trio of satellites able to provide accurate pictures of weather and pollution activity, regardless of climate conditions or time of day.

Previous launches at Vandenberg have provided a brilliant sight in the sky above San Diego.

While Radarsat-2 and the earlier Radarsat-1 were single-satellite missions, RCM uses three spacecraft to increase the frequency of coverage and enable new applications for the data the satellites gather.

An official says the first images are expected in the coming weeks and the satellites will serve a wide range of purposes, including monitoring sea ice, maritime surveillance, disaster management and agricultural and forestry management.

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