SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday (October 8) on its record-breaking 14th mission, sending two commercial communications satellites into orbit.
That falcon 9Crowned by the Intelsat Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 19:05 EDT (2305 GMT) on Saturday.
The Falcon 9 first stage returned to Earth, landing on SpaceX’s drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas about 8.5 minutes after liftoff. The robot ship was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred miles off the Florida coast.
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It was the 14th takeoff and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission brief (opens in new tab). The rocket previously helped launch the GPS III-3 and Turksat 5A satellites, the Transporter-2 ride-along mission, and 10 large batches from SpaceX Starlink Internet Satellite.
Fourteen missions is the record for a Falcon 9 first stage only set up last month during a launch that shot down the BlueWalker 3 communications satellite and 34 Starlinks.
Galaxy 33 deployed about 33 minutes after launch, and Galaxy 34 followed five minutes later. SpaceX confirmed via Twitter (opens in new tab).
The duo “are the next satellites in Intelsat’s comprehensive Galaxy fleet refresh plan, a new generation of technology that will offer Intelsat Media’s customers in North America powerful media distribution capabilities and unmatched cable headend penetration,” according to Luxembourg-based Intelsat wrote in a statement (opens in new tab). “It is critical to Intelsat’s US C-band clearing strategy.”
The Saturday flight was originally scheduled to depart Thursday evening (October 6), but the Falcon 9 shortly initiated an automatic abortion (opens in new tab) before the planned take-off. The demolition was caused by a small helium leak, said SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Thursday via Twitter (opens in new tab). SpaceX then pushed back the launch to Saturday to conduct additional vehicle checks.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaelwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or he Facebook (opens in new tab).