However, due to wildfire dangers near Vandenberg, the Air Force decided to allow SpaceX — and only SpaceX — to launch south from Florida. It made the exception because the Falcon 9 has an automatic flight safety system that can destroy the rocket it it has an anomaly or goes off its intended path. It’s critical that the rocket can make that decision without human intervention, because the rocket engine blast can interfere with self-destruct commands from the ground.
The key danger point for SpaceX was shortly after take off as the Falcon 9 skirted the Florida coast. The first stage dropped before the rocket arrived over Cuba, and after that, it was high enough not to threaten the island.
While only SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has the exemption for now, existing and upcoming rockets like the United Launch Alliance Vulcan, Blue Origin’s New Glenn and SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy will all eventually be equipped with automated self-destruct systems. At that point, they’ll all be allowed to fly south from Cape Canaveral as well.
The SAOCOM 1B satellite launched by Argentina’s space agency will follow a sun-synchronous orbit that will allow it to monitor spots on Earth at the same time each day. It’ll use radar to monitor Earth for disasters that could affect its agricultural, mining and other industries. The Falcon 9’s stage one rocket used in the launch has now flown four times in total — and will fly again, thanks to another successful ground landing near the launch pad.