SpaceX next launch: PAZ satellite for HD photos of Earth

Vandenberg Air Force Base announced this week that they were prepared for the next SpaceX rocket launch. The next launch will take place at the Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex-4, Lompoc, CA, and it'll take place on Saturday, February 17th, at 6:17 AM Pacific Time. Onboard this SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be the PAZ satellite for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain, and a set of smaller payloads with massive potential.

Included onboard this Falcon 9 is the Paz satellite that will become Spain's first radar observation satellite as part of the PNOTS National Earth Observation Satellite Program. This satellite works with its own X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar. With this radar, the satellite is able to capture images of the surface of the earth at 1m resolution. This spacial resolution means that 1 meter square will be the smallest space that one single pixel can cover.

X-SAR system modes of operation:

• Spotlight: Imagery of size 10km x 5km @ 1m resolution, or 10 km x 10km at 2m resolution

• ScanSAR: Imagery on a 100km swath @ 15m resolution

• Stripmap: Imagery on a 30km swath @ 3m resolution (single polarization), or 15km swath @ 6m (dual polarization)

This launch will be lead by Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander. "The 30th Space Wing is ready to support the first West Coast SpaceX launch of 2018," said Wood. "Each launch marks the culmination of hard work and dedication of Team V. We are excited to support this mission as we continue to provide safe, secure access to polar orbit."

Launch Details:

• Launch Date: February 17, 2018

• Launch Window: 9AM Pacific Time (tenative)

• Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 FT

• Launch Operator: SpaceX

• Launch Site: SLC-4E Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca

• 1st Stage Recovery: RTLS to SLC-4W (TBC)

• Payload: Paz (plus smaller packages)

• Payload Type: Radar Imaging

• Payload Operator: Hisdesat

Also the PAZ satellite will carry on board an ICE-CSIC Radio Occultation and Heavy Precipitation experiment (ROHP). It'll also carry on board an AIS receiver from the Canadian listed company exactEarth. According to Hisdesat, "This will be the first time that SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and AIS data fusion are being simultaneously captured, allowing for the best possible monitoring of the maritime domain worldwide."

It's expected that SpaceX will post live video of the launch event in their YouTube channel – or at least will have video there after the fact. If the launch happens, that is to say – that's not always something that's guaranteed, especially when you're talking about miniature details that could lead to multi-million-dollar disasters. Cross your fingers for clear weather!