A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent a new NASA and European Space Agency satellite into orbit in California on Saturday morning. The Michael Freilich Sentinel-6 satellite is the latest in a series of satellites that have provided vital data on sea level rise and climate change for nearly three decades. It is named after the former director of NASA’s Geosciences Department, Michael Freilich, who is considered a pioneer in performing oceanographic work from orbit.
The new ocean spy bird will be able to measure the sea level for 90% of the oceans around the globe within a few centimeters. A twin satellite called Sentinel-6B will join the effort upon launch in 2025. The instruments on the new satellites will also provide data on air temperature and humidity, which will help improve weather forecasts. according to NASA.
The mission began with the rather infrequent take-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the west coast of the United States. ONE Statement from Vandenberg Broadcast earlier this week, warned that multiple sonic booms could be heard in parts of California’s Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties as the Falcon 9’s first stage returned for landing after the satellite lifted toward orbit.
The loud booms could be heard on the mission webcast just before the first leg of Falcon 9 successfully landed on land near the launch pad. See the feed for yourself below.
It’s just the start of a very busy day for SpaceX, which is also planning to launch its latest Starlink satellites from Florida.