SpaceX launches US-French oceans satellite

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Los Angeles (AFP)

SpaceX on Sunday launched a $180 million satellite made by France and the United States to study sea level rise, and will make a fourth try at landing its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform.

"And liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with Jason-3, continuing the mission for global insight into ocean sea surface height and its effects on our planet," said NASA commentator George Diller.

The satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, at 10:42 am (1842 GMT).

It aims to offer a more precise look at how global warming and sea level rise affect wind speeds and currents as close as one kilometer (0.6 miles) from shore, whereas past satellites were limited to about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the coast.

The technology will monitor global sea surface heights, tropical cyclones and help support seasonal and coastal forecasts.

During a five-year mission, its data will also be used to aid fisheries management and research into human impacts on the world's oceans.

The satellite is the fruit of a four-way partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US space agency NASA, the French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).