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Vandenberg to launch SpaceX rocket carrying an Argentine Earth-observation satellite

Vandenberg Air Force Base is expected to launch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early next year.

The launch would carry to space an Argentine Earth-observation satellite called SAOCOM 1B.

The SAOCOM system will operate with an Italian satellite system to measure soil moisture on Earth, which could help during emergencies like oil spills or floods, according to the website for the Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), Argentina’s national space program.

When it may launch is unclear: Space Archive’s unofficial “Vandenberg AFB Launch Schedule” website lists the expected launch sometime in January, though CONAE representative Raúl Kulichevsky said the satellite will launch in February while speaking at the 11th Summit on Earth Observation Business on Sept. 13.

The rocket will take off from Space Launch Complex 4E, according to the Space Archive launch schedule.

This is not the first Argentine satellite to be launched from Vandenberg.

Last October, a Falcon 9 rocket carried SAOCOM 1A, another Earth-observation satellite for Argentina’s space agency, and later had a historic landing as the rocket’s first stage returned to earth.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect more information on the rocket’s expected launch date.

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