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.
Operating from Telesat's prime orbital location of 63 degrees West, 22,250 miles above the earth, the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite has two high throughput payloads, one in Ku-band and the other in Ka-band, serving the South, Central and North American regions. Eastern time Sunday morning.
After a months long dry spell, SpaceX just completed its latest and greatest rocket landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after launching a satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:50 a.m. EDT.
A live stream of the launch will be available from SpaceX. Block 5 vehicles are scheduled to launch communications satellites for the companies Iridium and Telkom Indonesia on July 25 and August 2, respectively.
SpaceX's rocket landings are back and better than ever.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says block 5 boosters should be able to fly 50 to 60 times with minimal refurbishment between flights, a key element in the company's drive to lower launch costs and capture a larger share of the commercial launch market.
The rocket's first stage touched down on the SpaceX drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" (yes, that's what it's called), shortly before 2:00 a.m. and less than 9 minutes in total after the initial liftoff. SpaceX launched the first block 5 rocket in May and will launch a third from California next week.
The upper stage continued into orbit, and deployed the Telstar 19 VANTAGE spacecraft around 33 minutes into the mission, notching SpaceX's 31st successful launch in a row.
A SpaceX recovery team was tasked with fishing the two halves of the Falcon 9's nose cone out of the Atlantic, in an experiment aimed at advancing the company's plans to save millions of dollars by reusing the nose cone, or fairing, as well as the booster. It'll also enhance broadband coverage for NorthwesTel, a Bell Canada subsidiary, in the far northern territory of Nunavut.
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