Mar 18, 2017 08:25 AM EDT
SpaceX successfully launched their EchoStar XXIII communication satellite into the orbit. This private space agency blasted off their Falon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver the satellite in high orbit above Earth. The main purpose of this launch is to provide broadcasting services for Brazil.
The initial launch was set up on Tuesday(March 14) morning but SpaceX had to reschedule the mission due to the heavy winds. Finally, on Thursday(March 16) at 2:00 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) the EchoStar XXIII satellite said goodbye to the 39A launch pad and headed towards the orbit. According to Space, this is the 29th successful Falcon 9 flight out of 31 attempted missions since 2010.
It was the first time in Falcon 9’s mission history the rocket did not include a post-takeoff landing. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced in a tweet that EchoStar XXIII is a super heavy(6-ton) satellite, so Falcon 9 needs more fuel to take off. A very few amount of fuel will remain that is not enough for the landing. The Verge report says this launch could be the last expendable launch for Falcon 9.
Musk explained that the upcoming missions would be similar to the EchoStar XXIII mission. SpaceX is planning to strap three Falcons together to build an advanced prototype of Falcon-Heavy which can carry heavy payloads to higher orbits. This will be the final upgrade of Falcon 9, named Block 5, and it’s supposed to improve the vehicle’s performance and make it easier to reuse.
Musk is planning to fly Block 5 for the first time, at the end of the year. EchoStar was launched from 39A launch pad of NASA's Kennedy Space Center and it is the second launch program by SpaceX. NASA’s LC39A have witnessed some of the most historic launch events, including Apollo 11.
SpaceX is going to refurbish the launch pad for their upcoming Falcon Heavy mission. However, the other launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, named LC40 is still under maintenance. It was badly damaged during One of the launching events of SpaceX. A Falcon 9 rocket was exploded during a routine fueling procedure on the launchpad.