SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, sending the Es’hail-2 satellite into space. (SpaceX via YouTube)
SpaceX sent the Es’hail-2 telecommunications satellite into orbit today, then brought the Falcon 9 rocket’s first-stage booster back down for an at-sea landing.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after a trouble-free countdown. The only break from SpaceX’s recent routine was the fact that the launch came during daylight hours, at 3:46 p.m. ET (12:46 p.m. PT).
Minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s second stage separated from the first stage and continued the push to geostationary transfer orbit. That freed up the first stage to go through an autonomous sequence of commands and touch down on SpaceX’s drone ship, whimsically christened “Of Course I Still Love You,” which was standing by hundreds of miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting Es’hail-2 to its proper place in geostationary orbit requires a series of orbital maneuvers, which started a little more than a half-hour after launch with a second-stage engine burn and satellite deployment.
The Japanese-built Es’hail-2 satellite is the second in a series of spacecraft designed to provide ...