After four days of delay, SpaceX has finally launched Italy’s Earth-observation satellite.
A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Monday at 6.11 p.m. EST (4.41 a.m. IST on Tuesday), Space.com reported.
The launch was initially aimed for January 27, but bad weather forced the company to stand down for four days in a row.
The booster landing was the 104th that SpaceX has pulled off to date during an orbital mission. SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson was quoted as saying during the webcast of Monday’s launch.
This particular first stage had flown twice before, as a side booster on SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket. Anderson said that the mission marked the first time that a Heavy side booster had been reconfigured and launched alone as a Falcon 9.
Such reuse is key to SpaceX’s long-range goals, as the company aims to reduce the cost of spaceflight to make ambitious exploration feats such as Mars colonization economically feasible.
SpaceX also aimed to recover the CSG-2 mission’s payload fairing — the protective “nose cone” that surrounds a payload during launch — Monday for reuse down the road, Anderson said.
The report said that the Cosmo-SkyMed program consists of two satellites designed to observe Earth using synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
CSG is an enhanced follow-on to the original Cosmo-SkyMed system.
The first CSG satellite, CSG-1, launched atop an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana in December 2019 and is currently operating in a sun-synchronous polar orbit with an altitude of 385 miles (620 km).
CSG-2 will operate in the same orbit, the report said.