Science & Technology

SpaceX sends Spanish telecom satellite into orbit with 50th Falcon 9 rocket launch

SpaceX sent a Spanish broadband telecommunications satellite into orbit tonight, marking the 50th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket.

The rocket sent Hispasat 30W-6 rose into the night sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:33 a.m. ET Tuesday (9:33 p.m. PT Monday), at the start of a two-hour launch window.

Launch commentator John Insprucker called it a “great liftoff.”

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted in a pre-launch tweet that Hispasat 30W-6 is the largest geostationary satellite SpaceX has ever flown. It’s about the size of a bus, weighs in at more than 13,000 pounds (6 metric tons) and takes its name from its destined location in orbit (30 degrees west).

The satellite is designed to provide broadband data services and television programming for Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Americas, from an altitude of more than 22,000 miles. It’ll be operated by Hispasat, one of the leading distributors of Spanish and Portuguese broadcast content.

Tonight’s launch came less than two weeks after SpaceX launched a Spanish radar-imaging satellite known as Paz, plus SpaceX’s first prototype Starlink broadband satellites.

This time around, SpaceX passed up the opportunity to try bringing the Falcon 9’s first-stage down onto the deck of a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after launch.

“Waves up to 8 meters, or 26 feet in height, eliminated the possibility of recovery — and we kept our drone ship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You,’ in port,” Insprucker explained during tonight’s webcast.

SpaceX still practiced the retro-rocket landing procedure, even though the booster fell into the Atlantic and was not due to be recovered.

Successful deployment of Hispasat 30W-6 to a geostationary transfer orbit confirmed.

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 6, 2018

Very proud of the SpaceX team! Can’t believe it’s been fifty Falcon 9 launches already. Just ten years ago, we couldn’t even reach orbit with little Falcon 1.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2018

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