Just two weeks after its most recent launch, Elon Musk’s private space firm, SpaceX, launched another Falcon 9 rocket into space. Unlike past missions, however, Monday’s launch saw the Falcon 9 deliver a massive payload to space, and never return to Earth, all for the sake of better internet. In a launch that was viewed by millions of viewers across the globe, the Falcon 9 rocket seemingly broke its limits and delivered its biggest payload yet in what currently stands as one of SpaceX’s most successful missions to date.
A WIRED report has stated that the private space firm would be launching a satellite from its Cape Canaveral launch pad on Monday night, with the launch window opening at 7:21 p.m. EST. The Falcon 9 rocket would be carrying a massive, 13,500-pound satellite from British firm Inmarsat, which is designed to deliver high-speed broadband internet to mobile customers.
The satellite, called the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4, is built by Boeing and is created to be one of four Global Xpress satellites that are set to deliver improved mobile internet connection for passengers in commercial aircraft, ships, and members of the U.S. military who are currently deployed. With the satellite launching into space, in-flight internet would be significantly improved.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 15, 2017
SpaceX has practically mastered the art of sending spacecraft to space and bringing them back to Earth, but in the case of Monday’s launch, the private firm has opted to send its rocket on a one-way trip instead. This is due to the sheer size of the payload it is carrying, as the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 is the Falcon 9’s heaviest payload yet, weighing in at 13,500 pounds and being larger than a double-decker bus. With a payload this heavy, the Falcon 9’s 230-foot frame needed all of its fuel and 1.7 million pounds of liftoff thrust to send the satellite to its destination 22,000 miles above the equator, according to a USA Today report.
As a result of the large payload it would be carrying, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Monday’s launch did not land its first stage after use. The Falcon Booster also went to space without carrying a landing gear. This is not the first time SpaceX has made a similar decision, however, as the private space firm also launched a satellite from EchoStar in a one-way trip to space a couple months back. During that time, it appeared that the EchoStar launch would be SpaceX’s last expendable mission. As it turned out, however, this was not to be the case.
The Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 rocket was originally slated to be launched in SpaceX’s bigger, far more reusable rocket, the Falcon Heavy. Back when SpaceX and the British firm ironed out their contract back in 2014, the massive payload was planned for a launch using the private space company’s largest rocket to date. With the Falcon Heavy still in development, however, the two companies had to reach a compromise, which ended with SpaceX opting to sacrifice one of its Falcon 9 rockets to send the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 satellite payload to space.
Falcon 9 and Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 vertical on Pad 39A. The 49-minute launch window opens at 7:21 p.m. EDT, or 23:21 UTC. pic.twitter.com/BYylLU7TTE
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 15, 2017
Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce has expressed his anticipation and optimism for the mission, stating that the launch would signify the beginning of a revolution in mobile internet. Considering that the mission would give better connections to customers who are out of range from conventional internet providers, the Inmarsat CEO’s statements could not be any more accurate.
“I’m sure we’re going to have a really, really exciting show. Everyone at Inmarsat, SpaceX and Boeing is really, really pumped about this launch. It’s a very significant one for us at Inmarsat, because we call it the end of the beginning of the Global Xpress era.”
With SpaceX achieving yet another successful launch, its place as one of the most aggressive and formidable private space firms has just been further established. If any, it proved that the Falcon 9, despite being pushed to its limits, is capable of delivering its payload to space in a safe and satisfactory manner.
— The Verge (@verge) May 15, 2017
[Featured Image by SpaceX]