This evening, SpaceX launched another rocket from Florida, but this vehicle took a very different kind of path than most flights from the East Coast. Rather than head eastward after launch as most Florida missions do, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket headed south after liftoff, skirting over Florida’s southeast coast and heading over Cuba.
That’s because this mission was headed to what is known as a polar orbit — a path that runs mostly north-to-south over the Earth’s poles. It’s a type of mission you don’t normally see taking place from Florida. In fact, this will be the first time since 1969 that a rocket taking off from Florida heads southward.
Up until now, most polar launches in the US have taken place from the southern coast of California….