Saturday’s SpaceX launch may be a small step for a company that is making increasingly regular trips into orbit, but the latest mission’s payload represents a giant step for climate studies here on Earth.
The launch itself was a success by all measures. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from a launchpad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday morning, shortly after 9:00 a.m. PT. The weather was beautiful and the launch happened right on schedule, as you can see in the video below.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 separated a few minutes after launch. This particular SpaceX rocket is partially reusable, and so the first stage returned to the ground unharmed, with a controlled descent and a pitch-perfect landing that drew cheers from observers.