SpaceX Launches COSMO-SkyMed 2nd Gen FM2 to Orbit

Space Coast, FL – After four days of consecutive scrubs SpaceX finally got their Falcon 9 off the ground. The initial launch date, January 27, 2022, was delayed by twenty-four hours due to unfavorable weather. This led to a very windy January 28, 2022. SpaceX then delayed the launch another twenty-four hours, again, due to poor weather conditions. Bringing us to, January 29, 2022, another delay due to weather in Florida affecting pre-launch operations. However, on January 30, 2022, everything was “A-Okay!”. Launch weather forecast was green across the board and the Falcon 9 at the ready. But the universe had other plans on day four. As the sunsets…

Sunset from the ITL Causeway at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Press Site for SLC-40
Sunset from the ITL Causeway at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Press Site for SLC-40 | photo: Jon Van Horne

A cruise ship was off the shore of Port Canaveral, Florida in the restricted mariners' zone at T-0. This caused SpaceX on their fourth back up day, to delay. The cruise ship in question was the Royal Caribbean: Harmony of the Seas. It was first reported by Emre Kelly from Florida Today, and confirmed by Port Canaveral and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Launch Day (the actual one)

On January 31, 2022 at 1811 EST, SpaceX got their converted Falcon Heavy side booster, turned Falcon 9 core, B1052-3 off the ground and to the stars. The COSMO-SkyMed second generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite was sent on a polar trajectory, making launch viewing absolutely gorgeous.

Falcon 9 B1052-3 lifts off for CSG-2
Falcon 9 B1052-3 lifts off for CSG-2 | photo: Crystal Gabriel

CSG-2

The COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellites, same as the first-generation ones, are satellites for Earth observation equipped with state-of-the-art engineering technologies and solutions, which further enhance the Italian leadership in this industry and promote the expansion of international strategic partnerships.

The system configuration has been operational since January 18th, 2021, with the first of four satellites. The second generation replaces the first gen and is reduced to only two satellites.

The beginning of the operational phase of the CSG system allows to ensure the full operational continuity of the entire COSMO-SkyMed mission, which has been in-orbit for over 10 years, and will increase its overall capabilities.

The CSG’s primary goal is to provide Earth observation services to dual users (both civil and military) through a wide product portfolio, obtained in the different operation modes of the SAR (synthetic aperture radar) sensor, both in the narrow-field mode, with ultra-fine resolution, and in the wide-field mode. Among the different methods of acquisition, there is also one that allows to simultaneously acquire images in quadruple polarization mode.

This launch was also a rare RTLS (Return To Launch Site) in which the first stage (core) rocket booster comes back to land on LZ-1 (Landing Zone 1). The air was brisk and clear to watch the entirety of the launch and trajectories of both stages.

First and Second stage separation twilight plume
First and Second stage separation twilight plume | photo: Jon Van Horne

The first stage returned to earth T+ 7 minutes and 54 seconds on LZ-1. This marked the third launch and landing of this Falcon 9 rocket booster. It's first time as a core booster and SpaceX's Falcon 9s' 136th successful mission.

Falcon 9 B1052-3 landing on LZ-1
Falcon 9 B1052-3 landing on LZ-1 | photo: Jon Van Horne

Next up for SpaceX is NROL-87, out of Vandenberg Space Force Base, California and Starlink 4-7, out of NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, both expected to launch on February 2, 2022. See our launch schedule for updates on Space Coast, FL.

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