Elon Musk's SpaceX has just successfully pulled off its 2018 launch schedule's second half. It sent the Canadian telecommunications satellite aboard the 230-foot Falcon 9 rocket to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This launch marked the space transportation services company's 13th launch this year.
This launch was one of the two launches that the company had planned for the Ottawa-based Telesat. The next one is expected to take place this Wednesday morning from California.
The Falcon 9 was kicked off at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday from the Launch Complex 40. Around 33 minutes later, following two burns by the upper stage of the rocket, the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite was released on its destined way to an orbit that is located high over the equator. The satellite is over 15,500-pounds in weight.
After around eight-and-a-half minutes from the liftoff, the rocket's first-stage booster landed on its legs on the SpaceX ship's deck that is placed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX's 26th booster that the company has managed to land is scheduled to come back to Port Canaveral within three to four days.
This mission also marked the Falcon 9's second flight. It is the latest and final version of the rocket and the company calls it Block 5.
Now, Elon Musk, the CEO of the company, believes that this booster, which has received some upgrade, should manage at least 10 flights with minimum restoration after each mission. On the other hand, the previous iteration of the booster, Block 4, could manage only two flights. This new booster was launched for the first time in May this year.
This Sunday's flight was also remarkable because it marked a new era in spaceflight, where the same rocket is expected to be used for years in different missions, including the ones where astronauts will be flown to the International Space Station.
The satellite that the Falcon 9 has carried this time, the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite, has been developed by California-based SSL. This satellite is expected to provide high-throughput broadcast and Internet connection across Brazil and Canada's northernmost regions.
"Telstar 19 Vantage will also be able to provide Internet connectivity to those in rural and remote areas, and even coverage over the North Atlantic Ocean, which is super-important when it comes to providing Internet access for commercial airlines and cruise ships. So, in addition to being able to kick back and enjoy an in-flight movie or check your email from 35,000 feet, the aircraft crews and the maintenance teams are also able to benefit from this in-flight connectivity," said Brian Mahlstedt during SpaceX's launch webcast. Mahlstedt is an engineer at the company.