VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A U.S.-European satellite designed to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights has been launched into Earth orbit from California. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:17 a.m. and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean. The Falcon’s first stage successfully returned to the launch site and landed for reuse. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is named for a former NASA official who had a key role in developing space-based oceanography. Its main instrument is an extremely accurate radar altimeter that will bounce signals off the surface of the oceans.

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