SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite on 2nd-Ever Flight of New Rocket

James Marshall
July 24, 2018

SpaceX launched the first of two missions planned for this week on Sunday, July 22, lofting the Telstar 19 Vantage telecom satellite for Telesat using a Falcon 9 rocket.

Earlier versions of the Falcon 9 first stage likely would have been unable to attempt a landing given the Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite's high-altitude orbit and record weight - 15,600 pounds - but the "block 5" version of the booster, featuring more powerful engines, structural upgrades and other improvements, had no obvious problems. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to charge at least $200K for space rides The rocket made a successful separation and landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Hawthorne, California-based company's valuation has climbed to about $25 billion, making it the third-most valuable venture-backed startup in the US after Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. Eastern, and deployed Telstar 19 Vantage into a geostationary transfer orbit nearly 33 minutes later.

The launch window for the Telstar 19 VANTAGE mission opens at 1:50 a.m. It's carrying a communications satellite that will provide data services in North and South America. The landing of this rocket, designed with reusability in mind, marks the beginning of a completely recyclable era of rockets for the company.

It's just rocket science: The Block 4, the company's earlier rocket, was created to be used only a few times. It is also expected to be used by NASA to send astronauts into the International Space Station for the first time in 2019. Back in November 2015, the Canadian communications satellite company signed a contract with SSL for the construction of the satellite, which is based on the SSL-1300 bus. Based on the SSL 1300 platform, the spacecraft weighs about 15,600 pounds (7,076 kilograms) and is created to operate for about 15 years.

What's next: The Block 5 is undergoing upgrades that will add helium tanks to the launch vehicle.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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