These photos show the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Nov. 21 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the U.S.-European Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich oceanography satellite.
The commercial launcher lifted off from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST; 1717 GMT) on Nov. 21. Nine kerosene-fueled Merlin 1D engines powered the 229-foot (70-meter) rocket off the pad and toward the south-southeast over the Pacific Ocean.
Nearly two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, the Falcon 9’s first stage detached and began maneuvers to head back to a landing at Vandenberg. The booster ignited its center engine for a braking maneuver just before a vertical touchdown on Landing Zone 4, just west of the Falcon 9’s launch pad, more than eight minutes after liftoff.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage deployed the European-built Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite into orbit nearly one hour after launching from Vandenberg, beginning the spacecraft’s mission to monitor global sea levels.
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