The 22-story rocket developed by Space Exploration Technologies – SpaceX – lifted off from its seaside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday evening.
Two previous launch attempts last week were scuttled by technical glitches, including a last-second abort on Thursday.
Perched on top of the rocket was a 3,175-kilogram communications satellite owned by Luxembourg-based company SES SA, which operates a 54-satellite fleet, the world’s second-largest.
The satellite, known as SES-8 – worth more than $US100 million – will be positioned to provide television, broadband and other communications services to customers in India, China, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia ::::
“It’s an extremely important satellite for us,” Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of SES, told reporters before the launch. “We know that as we go forward into these very significant growth markets that it’s absolutely critical that we have a cost-effective and efficient way to get to orbit. That’s really what SpaceX has brought us.”
SpaceX’s launch schedule includes nearly 50 missions, worth about $4.3 billion. Around 75 per cent of the flights are for commercial customers.
The global satellite industry had revenues of nearly $207 billion in 2012, including nearly $98 billion in television services alone, the Satellite Industry Association trade group reported in October. The US share of the market is 45 per cent, the report said.
Previous SES satellites were launched primarily aboard Russian Proton and European Ariane rockets, which cost far more than the approximately $60 million the company paid for its ride on SpaceX’s Falcon booster, Mr Halliwell said.
He would not say exactly how much SpaceX undercut the competition, but did say SES received a discount by agreeing to fly on Falcon 9’s first mission to high orbits used by communications satellites.
SpaceX aims to put SES-8 into an elliptical orbit that reaches more than 80,000km from Earth, about a quarter of the way to the moon. That altitude requires less fuel for SES-8 to fly itself into its 36,000-km high operational orbit, thereby extending its service life.
SpaceX needs three successful launches of its upgraded Falcon rocket before it will be eligible to compete to carry the US military’s largest and most expensive satellites, a market now monopolized by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
RELATED! NASA Launches MAVEN
NASA’s latest trick, MAVEN – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution – has kicked-off with a seamless countdown and flawless launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex. The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the 2 tonne spacecraft lifted off at 1:28 pm local time.
“MAVEN deployed without a hitch, everything is looking good,” NASA Mission Control said.
The MAVEN mission will measure the effect solar winds have had on stripping its atmosphere of water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. When a spacecraft was first sent to Mars in the 1960s, it looked like a cratered, battered world, not much different to Earth’s moon :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! China Tests Unmanned STEALTH Drone ‘Sharp Sword’
China’s first stealth combat drone has reportedly made a successful maiden flight, with state media hailing the move as evidence Beijing is closing the gap with major Western powers, the drone is the nations third unmanned weapon.
The test flight of the “Sharp Sword” unmanned aircraft is another step in China’s years-long military build-up, with its defence spending now the second highest in the world and growing by double-digit percentages each year.
This latest weapon from the worlds most populated nation is thought to be based on a Skunk Works – Lockheed Martin – Concept, the UCLASS – Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike – drone :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Worth a Thousand Words: The World Outside My Window
It’s been a week of speechless moments, a time taken over by imagery. Capping the week off is an edit by David Peterson, and though it’s hard to go wrong with any image shot from the International Space Station, Mr Petersons’s edit of time lapse images is an appropriate way to round off a speechless week, my words are worthless here, check the video :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! SpaceX Capsule Arrives at ISS
A privately-owned unmanned US space capsule has arrived at the International Space Station with supplies after overcoming thruster problems earlier in the flight. The capsule named Dragon was captured with the help of a robotic arm on Sunday when the ISS was over northern Ukraine, US space officials said.
The capsule brings with it food, scientific materials and other crucial equipment. Canadian astronaut and avid tweeter commander Chris Hadfield confirmed the capture of the Dragon capsule.
“The Dragon is ours! Maneuvering it now on Canadarm2 to a docking port, will open hatches once secure. Look forward to new smells. Great!” he tweeted from the @Cmdr_Hadfield account :: Read the full ABC News article »»»»