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How to watch SpaceX attempt first onshore rocket landing since March

SAOCOM 1B Mission

SpaceX is launching rockets at a rapid rate these days, deploying satellites not only for its internet-providing Starlink service, but also for a host of other companies as part of its recently launched Smallsat Rideshare Program.

Today, SpaceX had been set to launch two Falcon 9 missions on the same day: One deploying a further batch of Starlink satellites, and one launch of an Earth-observing satellite called Saocom 1B for Argentina’s CONAE space agency as well as a commercial radar imaging satellite for California-based Capella Space, and a weather data satellite for Colorado-based PlanetiQ.

Unfortunately, the Starlink launch had to be scrubbed due to inclement weather conditions, and has been delayed until Tuesday, September 1 at 6:29 a.m. PT.

Standing down from today’s launch of Starlink due to inclement weather during pre-flight operations. Next launch opportunity is Tuesday, September 1 at 9:29 a.m. EDT, pending Range acceptance

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2020

However, there’s still a possibility that the Saocom launch can go ahead today, with a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions.

What makes this latest mission a little different from recent ones is that SpaceX will be attempting an on-shore landing, its first since March 2020. For the last five months, its first-stage Falcon 9 boosters have been returning to a SpaceX drone ship stationed off the Florida coast, but the flight trajectory of this particular mission will result in the booster coming down on land.

When are the launches?

The Starlink mission had been set to lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:12 a.m. PT on Sunday, August 30, but this has now been scrubbed.

So now the Saocom 1B mission is set to lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:18 p.m. PT on Sunday, August 30. The booster should land back on terra firma around eight minutes after launch.

It’s advisable to check SpaceX’s Twitter or Facebook account for the latest updates regarding launch times, though we’ll endeavor to post any updates here just as soon as we hear about them.

What to look out for

Enjoy the awesome sight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket soaring skyward, and also the amazing moment the booster returns to Earth and lands upright, a feat that never ceases to amaze. SpaceX may offer coverage of the satellite deployments, too, as well as footage of its net-equipped ships attempting to catch the rocket’s nose cone as it returns to Earth in two parts, a tricky maneuver that it appears to be close to nailing.

SpaceX has confirmed that the first stage of the Falcon 9 used in the Saocom mission will aim to touch down on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

How to watch the launch

SpaceX will livestream the launch and landing on its website, and you can watch the event using the video embedded at the top of this page. Coverage begins 15 minutes before liftoff, so that’s around 4:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, August 30 for the Saocom 1B mission.

Update August 30: Added information about Starlink launch and weather issues.

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