SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on March 4 and placed SES-9 satellite in orbit, while the first stage landed back hard on the drone ship off Cape Canaveral coast. SES-9 satellite is the ninth SES telecommunication satellite in the SES family and the second one launched by SpaceX.

The Falcon 9 dropped the SES-9 satellite in a Geostationary orbit, about 36000 km high in altitude. To get there the rocket needed a lot of propellant in the first stage, which meant the combustible left to attempting a return to the drone ship was limited.

The launch date was initially set up for Feb. 24, then several launch attempts were made respectively on Feb. 25, 26, 28, 29 and on March 1. Sharply changing upper level winds and a boat entering the restricted maritime zone were some of the circumstances causing the launch postponing.

Thanks to its high revisit rate, Deimos-2 Very High resolution (VHR) satellite eyed the whole SES-9 campaign, starting from pre-launch operations in early February and then capturing the Falcon 9 at the Launch Pad in Cape Canaveral on Feb. 23, 27, 28 and spotting the drone ship ‘Of course I still love you’ ready to recover the first stage in the Atlantic Ocean on March 4 (Fig. 5).

The three-hour tasking-to-delivery capabilities of Deimos-2, made possible to acquire and timely publish the barge image just a couple of hours before the launch.

The drone ship picture achieved widespread impressions in the social media, being quoted, among others, by SpaceNews, Spaceflight Now and the Planetary Society.

Read also the story in the UrtheCast’s blog