SpaceX bags first polar mission from Florida in 50 years

JC Torres - Aug 31, 2020, 5:02 am CDT
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SpaceX bags first polar mission from Florida in 50 years

Just when you thought the company couldn’t make history anymore, SpaceX just launched yet another one. Although it had to cancel the first of its two planned launches on Sunday due to unfavorable weather conditions, luck seemed to still smile on it as it launched what may be the more historic one. Not only that, but it was also able to safely land the Falcon 9 rocket that has now flown four times and is now also the first rocket to be launched from Florida on a polar corridor mission since 1969.

It may not be a huge milestone towards SpaceX’s grand vision of colonizing future planets but its success in this mission speaks highly of its capabilities and the trust given to the company. Polar corridor missions, which launch satellites that orbit from north to south poles, are often launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California because of its proximity to the “polar corridor”. Cape Canaveral’s location in Florida, on the other hand, is better suited for the usual equatorial launches that SpaceX has been doing regularly.

Due to past and current fires in the state, launching polar missions from Florida, which hasn’t been done since 1969, has been an ongoing consideration. Because such missions have a very narrow margin for error and would be flying over populated areas, the Falcon 9’s ability to self-destruct became an important reason why it was chosen to launch Argentina’s SAOCOM-1B satellite. Fortunately, that didn’t become necessary after all.

The Falcon 9 launched from Florida at 7:18 p.m. EDT and just nine minutes later, its first stage booster made its successful landing back on terra firma. Given the weather, it was difficult to track the booster’s descent but it survived without a scratch. This time, though, SpaceX made no attempt to catch the fairing halves as they dropped from the sky.

That particular Falcon 9 has now made four launches and, of course, four safe returns, another achievement for the company. It is also SpaceX’s 100th launch, making this particular mission even more historic than it already was.


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