After several delays, SpaceX has finally launched an Italian satellite aboard its Falcon 9 rocket from a station in Florida, US. The space company founded by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk initially planned to launch the Earth-observation satellite last week but continuous bad weather forced it to reschedule the launch several times. A window of opportunity opened up on Sunday but a cruise ship sailed into restricted waters off the Florida coast and could not move out of the “no-go zone” in time for the launch. The rocket carrying the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:11am EST Monday (4:41am Tuesday IST).
CSG is an Italian government system consisting of two satellites that observe Earth using synthetic aperture radar. The first (CSG-1) was launched in December 2019 aboard a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana and is currently operating in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 620km. CSG-2 will also operate in the same orbit. The system, with some improvements, is set to replace the original Cosmo-SkyMed system launched between 2007 and 2010.
SpaceX tweeted a video confirming the deployment of the 2,200kg satellite built by Thales Alenia Space into orbit about 60 minutes after launch.
Everything worked out for SpaceX during this launch. The first stage returned for a soft landing at the pre-designated site just under eight minutes after liftoff. This recovery of first-stage boosters is key to SpaceX’s long-term goals to reach Mars and make space exploration economical and feasible.
Here are a couple of the other launch-related tweets by SpaceX:
Space X had also shared a video to watch the launch of the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite.
SpaceX has planned to achieve a massive target of 52 launches in 2022. But these delays cast a shadow on its target and also put the focus back on the need for better scheduling. If SpaceX achieves that target it would mark the most launches by the company ever conducted in a single year. In 2021, SpaceX had managed 31 launches, a record for the company.