Less than two months after lofting Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite into orbit, SpaceX launched another broadband communications satellite for the Canadian company in the early hours of Monday morning.
Despite a minor delay caused by bad weather, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket aced the launch of the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite, also known as Apstar 5C, and performed a flawless ocean landing a few minutes after, reports Space.
The hefty communications satellite — the second heaviest ever launched, after the Telstar 19V, according to Spaceflight Now — lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Just like the Telstar 19V, the spacecraft hitched a ride into space atop a brand-new “Block 5” booster.
As the Inquisitr reported last week, the Telstar 18V communications satellite was originally slated for a late-night launch on September 9, with the launch window opening about half an hour before midnight.
“Falcon 9 and Telstar 18 VANTAGE are vertical on Pad 40 in Florida. Weather is 60 percent favorable for tonight’s four-hour launch window, which opens at 11:28 p.m. EDT,” SpaceX officials wrote on Twitter on Sunday night.
However, rain and heavy clouds forced the company to push back the launch three times, until the Falcon 9 rocket was finally cleared for take-off after a 77-minute delay.
“Liftoff!” tweeted SpaceX as the Falcon 9 soared to the skies at 12:45 a.m. EDT (04:45 UTC) on September 10.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 10, 2018
Today’s launch marked the 16th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket since the beginning of 2018 and the fourth time a “Block 5” booster has soared to the skies, notes Ars Technica.
While the Telstar 18V was carried into geostationary orbit by the second stage of the Falcon 9, the “Block 5” booster made a perfect ocean touchdown about eight minutes after the launch. The rocket’s first stage landed on SpaceX’s “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed some 400 miles (650 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral.
The livestream of the entire event, from the dramatic countdown to the booster’s touch down in the Atlantic Ocean, is available in the video below.
While the video feed from the first stage was cut off just as the booster landed, SpaceX confirmed on Twitter that the “Block 5” safely made it to the drone ship.
“We don’t have a view but we hear recovery calling out, ‘Falcon 9 has landed,'” Falcon 9 principal integration engineer John Insprucker said during the livestream.
Meanwhile, the Telstar 18V satellite was deployed into orbit above Earth 32 minutes after the launch. The 15,564-pound (7,060 kilograms) satellite, which is only slightly lighter than the Telstar 19V, is the third one to join the Telesat fleet in space and the first one “with coverage over the Asia-Pacific region,” SpaceX detailed in the mission overview.
The company pointed out that Telstar 18V “will replace and expand on the capabilities of Telesat’s Telstar 18 satellite,” which launched in 2004.
Successful deployment of Telstar 18 VANTAGE to a geostationary transfer orbit confirmed. pic.twitter.com/nlRgxoILJ9
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 10, 2018
According to a statement by Telesat, the satellite will “provide extensive C-band coverage of Asia that reaches from India and Pakistan in the West all the way to Hawaii in the East, enabling direct connectivity from any point in Asia to the Americas.”
Just like in the case of the Telstar 19V launch — which saw the second flight of a Falcon 9 “Block 5” in the history of the updated rocket booster, the Inquisitr reported at the time — the rocket’s first stage was recovered and will most likely be reused on a future mission.
This is the 29th time that SpaceX manages to recover an intact Falcon booster since December 2015, when the company nailed its first booster recovery, notes Spaceflight Now.
Next up for SpaceX is the launch of Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A Earth-observation satellite, slated to take place on October 7 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.