Sentinel-6A; Vital Earth Science mission marks first West Coast launch of 2020
One of the most important scientific missions of 2020, and the second collaboration to launch with partners Space X & NASA this week, Sentinel-6A & a brand new Falcon 9 Booster leaped off of California Launch Pad SLC-4E for the first time in over 18 months.
The Central California Coast was awakened yesterday morning, for the first time in over a year, to the sound of Nine Merlin-1D Engines rumbling through the Pacific skies. At 9:17am PST on November 21st, Space X successfully launched their 100th Falcon 9 mission from SLC-4E, Vandenberg AFB , just outside Lompoc, California.
The mission, " Sentinel-6A Michael Freilich" launched on behalf of customers NASA, the European Space Agency, and their associated partners, lofted a 1400kg Oceanic Observation Satellite into a low, Solar-Synchronous Orbit around the Earth. S-6A, named after remarked oceanographer, and former NASA Earth Science Director, Michael Freilich, is set to become one half of a new generation Orbital Earth Observation system, with it's sister satellite, Sentinel-6B, set to launch within the next five years. The purpose of the Sentinel Satellites is to give analyst's at NASA and at ESA accurate sea-level measurement's and oceanic data relating to climate change, for the next 30 years to come. An instrumental mission between international partners on the pressing global issues we are beginning to face
On launch provider, Space X's front, this mission tallied 19 overall launches for the company this year, and the second flight this week, following just five days behind the historic Crew-1 flight from LC-39A in Florida. The vehicle which flew this mission, Falcon 9 Booster 1063, is so far the most recently produced from Space X Headquarters and manufacturing facility in Hawthorne, California. Following yesterdays successful lift-off, which was the first since July of 2019 from SLC-4E, Falcon 9 preformed an RTLS landing just a few dozen yards adjacent from the launch stand. The first stage is primarily planned to be re-used on the NASA DART mission scheduled for next summer, but could also act as a back-up to the Crew-2 mission if Crew-1 booster 1061 can not be used for any reason.
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And a Special Thanks to HoverSlamSpace.com new addition, West Coast correspondent, K Enagonio for her launch coverage of this mission!