By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com and Associated Press
Published: 03:34 GMT, 22 November 2020 | Updated: 03:35 GMT, 22 November 2020
A US-European satellite designed to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights was launched into Earth orbit from California on Saturday.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:17am and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean.
The Falcon's first stage flew back to the launch site and landed for reuse.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen above taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday morning
The rocket was carrying a joint American-European satellite that will monitor ocean levels over the next three decades
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was released from the second stage about an hour later.
It then deployed its solar panels and made first contact with controllers.
Named for a former NASA official who had a key role in developing space-based oceanography, the satellite’s main instrument is an extremely accurate radar altimeter that will bounce energy off the sea surface as it sweeps over Earth’s oceans.
An identical twin, Sentinel-6B, will be launched in 2025 to ensure continuity of the record.
A camera attached to the rocket shows it above the launch point over Vandenberg Air Force Base in California
The rocket took off and then arced southward over the