SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground

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The California-based aerospace manufacturing company founded by Elon Musk launched its Falcon 9 rocket Sunday evening.

The launch of the satellite, SAOCOM 1A, is being conducted for Argentina's space agency.

The mission got underway at 7:21:28 p.m. PDT (GMT-7; 10:21 p.m. EDT), a bit less than an hour after sunset, when the booster's nine Merlin 1D engines ignited, throttled up to full thrust and quickly pushed the 229-foot-tall rocket away from Launch Complex 4-East. Please let us know where you took the image.

The historic part of the mission will occur soon after the launch when SpaceX attempts to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg.

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It was SpaceX's 17th flight so far this year, the company's 44th successful launch in a row and the 63rd overall for the Falcon 9 family of rockets, including the February debut of its three-core Falcon Heavy rocket. During previous West Coast launches, it has sent out a ship equipped with a giant net to catch parafoil-equipped components of the nosecone as the descend toward the ocean.

Cheers went up from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., as webcams showed the first stage setting itself down on Landing Zone 4.

The primary objective of the mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also wanted to expand its recovery of first stages to its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The retro firings slowed the rocket down from supersonic speeds, setting off a sonic boom that could be heard in some areas (but not others).

Saocom-1A has an L-band payload created to study soil moisture for agriculture, disaster monitoring and scientific research.

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