SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket officially marked its 50th flight when it successfully launched the Spanish communication satellite into space from Cape Canaveral early on Tuesday. Aside from marking its 50th flight since it was established, SpaceX also launched its fifth flight for this year.
The launch had been previously delayed and ran over a week late. The company announced at the end of February that the launch would be delayed due to extended testing and scheduling issues. The rocket ignited and launched at 12:33 a.m. EST, and pushed the booster away from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk shared his reactions via a Twitter post after the successful launch.
“Very proud of the SpaceX team! Can’t believe it’s been fifty Falcon 9 launches already. Just ten years ago, we couldn’t even reach orbit with little Falcon 1.”
The engines turned off after two and half minutes after the launch, and the first stage fell away, while the flight continued towards its orbit on a single Merlin engine. The first stage fell down into the atmosphere, although the company didn’t make attempts to recover it for reusing.
SpaceX’s booster recovery ship remained in Port Canaveral and didn’t go to the location, due to the increasing risks from rough seas that could jeopardize the mission. Some waves even topped 24 feet at the landing zone, according to CBS.
The first stage participated in a series of re-entry rocket firings, but the company didn’t expect that the booster would survive the impact into the water. On the other hand, the second stage successfully carried out the goal of taking Hispasat 30W-6, a Spanish communication satellite, and had reached preliminary parking orbit within eight minutes and 40 seconds following the launch.
Thanks to the propulsion system, the Spanish communication satellite will follow an orbit at an altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator. Such types of satellites orbit our planet within 24 hours, while appearing in a stationary state in the sky, which is an important condition for all communication stations according to CBS News.
The satellite was built by Space Systems Loral and sports 40 Ku-band transponders, seven Ka beams and 10 C-band transponders, according to SpaceX mission’s overview. It distributes Spanish and Portuguese content which also includes high-definition television and direct-to-home. Users of this service can also enjoy the broadband service, while the company also provides data for governments and corporate users.
Now that the Hispasat launch is behind SpaceX, the company can prepare for an extremely busy March, and spring schedule in general. The company is expected to launch another Falcon 9 rocket which will carry 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on March 29. Four days later, the Dragon cargo ship will launch from Cape Canaveral with the aim to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Other upcoming launch missions, as well as those already completed can be found here.
In case you missed the live coverage of the launch, make sure to check out the webcast on SpaceX’s site.