Three satellites for the Canadian Space Agency's Earth Monitor Radarsat program were launched in circulation from California on Wednesday aboard a reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The rocket lifted off from the mist-covered Vandenberg Air Force Base at 07:17 and ran across the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles.
The first stage separated a few minutes in flight and returned to the coastal base, extended the legs and sat down on a landing zone.
The first stage earlier was used in March for a demonstration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.
The radarsat Constellation Mission satellites were used a few minutes from the upper stage about one hour after the interception.
The same satellites will bounce signals from the earth's surface to create images, even in bad weather conditions.
The images are used for a variety of purposes, including sea ice tracking, ships, surface wind and oil pollution, and disaster management – especially the recurring flood problem – and monitoring of agriculture, forestry and land change.
The spacecraft was designed to work in the same orbital plane at a height of about 373 miles (600 kilometers), separated from each other by about 9,072 miles (14,600 kilometers) while circling the globe in about 96 minutes.
The program's first orbiter, Radarsat-1, was launched in 1995 and is now inactive. Radarsat-2 was launched in 2007 and still works, but the new three-satellite constellation is intended to increase coverage, according to the space agency.
The system targets specific areas for imaging rather than continuous images.
Primary control of the satellites is from the spaceworks headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.
Each satellite is expected to have a seven-year lifetime.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.