On July 5, SpaceX completed the launch of its latest Falcon 9 rocket. It was carrying a communications satellite — the Intelsat 35e — to a geostationary orbit. As always, SpaceX live-tweeted and streamed the launch, and it was textbook.
At this point reporting on SpaceX’s successes feels like a foregone conclusion. Of course they launched, of course it went awesome, move on, next thing. But it’s worth noting (again) that space flight is in a new, critical era. This could well determine how quickly we see broad commercial pushes for bigger spaceflight. Racking up wins like this makes Mars and other far-off, big-scale space projects much more likely — and much more likely to succeed.
The launch had been delayed a couple times this weekend, due to apparent guidance system issues. That sounds bad, and yeah it’s a little troubling there’s something to fix at all, but having an agile private company leading the charge for safe, responsible space flight and employing enough checks and safe guards that these issues get caught before launch, is definitely good news.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 6, 2017
Perhaps more impressive though, is that this marks the third such launch in the past couple weeks. That’s astonishing, and again, a testament to SpaceX organization, administration, and, of course, engineering.
Unlike many other recent launches, though, this rocket from this launch will not be recovered. Geostationary orbits are far higher than the ones used for other craft and satellites like the International Space Station. After the rocket delivered the new communications hub, there just wasn’t enough fuel to get the ship back to earth so that it could be recycled.
In any case, it’s good news for all of us, not to mention the future of spaceflight to keep seeing these wins — even if the road to get there was a bit rocky.
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