Watch SpaceX's first West Coast ground landing at 10:21PM ET

Ismael LynchOct 08, 2018

The primary objective of Sunday's mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also successfully sent a first stage booster back to Vandenberg Air Force Base for the first time.

The 3,500-lb. (1,600 kilograms) SAOCOM-1A satellite was developed by Argentina's national space agency, which is known by its Spanish acronym CONAE. The rocket plume is expected to be illuminated by the sun after the launch at 7:21 p.m. Sunday.

In a first for the West Coast, a Falcon 9 rocket's first stage landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday evening, touching down at Landing Zone 4 just a few hundred yards from the launch pad where the mission began. Please let us know where you took the image. The satellite, Saocom-1A, separated from the launcher's upper stage about 13 minutes later.

Cheers went up from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., as webcams showed the first stage setting itself down on Landing Zone 4. Once again, the light is from a SpaceX launch.

Argentina's domestic satellite manufacturer INVAP built the satellite with assistance from other agencies and domestic companies.

Saocom-1A has an L-band payload created to study soil moisture for agriculture, disaster monitoring and scientific research.

SAOCOM 1, together with the Italian COSMO-SkyMed X-Band SAR constellation, make up the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management, or SIASGE.

The Saocom-1A launch places SpaceX one mission away from tying its record of 18 launches in one year, set in 2017.

In keeping with that vision, tonight marked the second flight for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, which also helped loft 10 Iridium Next commercial communications satellites from Vandenberg on July 25.

A graphic explaining sonic booms, provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base ahead of a planned SpaceX launch on October 7, 2018. That almost identical satellite will launch in "the near future", also on a Falcon 9, according to the mission narrator for the Saocom-1A webcast.

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