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SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Reaches New Heights in Satellite Launch

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Dec 04, 2013 03:01 PM EST
Falcon 9 rocket launch of SES-8 satellite
Through its successful launch of a satellite for the Thai company THAICOM on Monday (not pictured here), SpaceX has further solidified its place as a major contender in the spaceflight industry. In this picture: Third time's a charm for SpaceX, the space technology company that twice halted the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket before sending it a quarter of the way to the Moon Tuesday. (Photo : SpaceX)

Third time's a charm for SpaceX, the space technology company that twice halted the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket before sending it a quarter of the way to the Moon Tuesday. 

Exploding off the platform at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the rocket carried with it an SES satellite, which it successfully placed into geostationary orbit a half hour after lift-off.

Manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the satellite is designed to provide television, cable, broadband and other services to customers in Asia, including China and India, Reuters reported.

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"It's an extremely important satellite for us," the news outlet quoted Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of SES, as saying at a prelaunch gathering Sunday. "We know that as we go forward into these very significant growth markets that it's absolutely critical that we have a cost-effective and efficient way to get to orbit. That's really what SpaceX has brought us."

Following the launch, SES President and CEO Romain Bausch issued a statement praising the company's partners.

"We congratulate the SpaceX team for the success of a challenging launch campaign and our longstanding supplier Orbital for innovating with us in exploring new paths to orbit while delivering a brand-new, state-of-the-art satellite for Asia," he said.

The satellite's launch was first stalled Nov. 25 but was aborted due to "unexpected readings," a SpaceX spokeswoman told reporters.

Three days later, the launch was postponed again when officials once again called a manual abort. "Better to be paranoid and wrong," SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted in response.

Tuesday's launch represented a milestone for the company: in all, the rocket lifted the satellite nearly 50,000 miles above the Earth.

"Today's successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite marks SpaceX's first geo-synchronous transfer mission and confirms the Falcon 9 launch vehicle lives up to the industry's highest performance standards," Musk said of the success.

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