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SpaceX Launches Super-Heavy Communications Satellite

Monday, May 15, 2017 22:43
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The 23-story-tall booster soared off its seaside launch pad, which once hosted NASA’s space shuttles and Apollo moon rockets, at 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT). It was the sixth of more than 20 missions SpaceX plans to fly this year.

Perched on top of the two-stage rocket was the 13,400-lb. (6,100 kilograms) Inmarsat-5 F4 communications satellite, the heaviest spacecraft yet to be delivered by a Falcon booster into a geostationary transfer orbit some 22,300 miles (35,800 km) above Earth.

The satellite separated from the Falcon 9′s second stage right on time, about 32 minutes after liftoff.

“It’s been a great afternoon and evening,” said SpaceX mission commentator John Insprucker. “All you can ask for today.”

Getting F4 into its intended orbit emptied the Falcon’s fuel tanks, leaving no propellant for the booster’s first stage to attempt a landing on either a drone barge or the ground.



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