Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite on its Falcon 9 rocket early Thursday morning.
The 229-foot-rocket blasted off at around 2 a.m. Eastern, after having been postponed for two days due to weather conditions. The Falcon 9 rocket deployed EchoStar XXIII, a communications satellite that provides broadcast services for Brazil and is now orbiting about 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. SpaceX streamed the launch on its website.
Unlike last month's launch, when a Falcon 9 lifted off and successfully returned back to Earth, SpaceX did not recover the rocket post-takeoff. At 12,300 pounds, the satellite was too heavy a load for the rocket to execute both a take-off and a controlled landing.
Thursday’s mission marked SpaceX’s second launch from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The historic pad was used for the first Moon mission.
The next SpaceX launch is scheduled for March 27. Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES will work with Musk’s company to launch an SES-10 telecommunications satellite. This will be the first time the company will employ a reused Falcon rocket recovered from a previous launch.
“Re-launching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said in August 2016.