After Delay, SpaceX Successfully Launches EchoStar XXIII Communications Satellite Into Space [Watch Video Here]
SpaceX is definitely back. After a mishap that prevented Elon Musk's commercial space flight company from launching rockets since September of 2016, the company now has two rocket launches under their belt this year.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from NASA's historic Complex 39A launch pad inside the Kennedy Space Center. The rocket will bring an EchoStar XXIII communications satellite into the geostationary transfer orbit.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 EchoStar XXIII launch was originally scheduled for March 14, but was rescheduled to March 16 due to bad weather. Although there were delays, the launch was completed early Thursday.
The heavyweight payload (estimated at six tons) demanded more effort from the Falcon 9 rocket, therefore no return trip was initiated. The rocket's own weight was trimmed down to make way for its heavy payload by eliminating landing gears and reserve fuel for the trip back that took up space and weight during launches.
This is the first Falcon 9 to be used without landing gears in almost two years, according to Space.com. The successful launch was to fulfill pending SpaceX contracts that were affected by the company's suspension in late 2016. The company is expected to perform more launches in the coming months in order to catch up with its pending obligations to its clients.
SpaceX hosted a comprehensive webcast with the video being supported by experts input during the duration of the launch. Narrators explain the stages of the EchoStar XXII launch as it happens to make it easier to watch and understand.
The live webcast followed the rocket until stage 2, where Falcon 9 brought EchoStar XXIII to space. Once the rocket becomes operational in the geostationary transfer orbit, it will provide its service to Brazil in approximately 15 years.
Later that day, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter that the EchoStar satellite had been delivered to the geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).