SpaceX Falcon 9’s recent success story in pictures

Elon Musk revealed that Hispasat 30W-6 is the largest geostationary satellite SpaceX has ever flown.

  • Published: March 8, 2018 3:01 PM IST

On March 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully launched a Spanish communications satellite on the landmark 50th flight of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. The two-stage Falcon 9 lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, delivering the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite to Earth orbit roughly 30 minutes later.

Celebrating the success, hours later, SpaceX shares some spectacular pictures of the event which show a bus-sized Spanish satellite strapped to the rocket as it lights up the morning sky over its launch pad on its journey out of the atmosphere.

The March 6 launch was originally scheduled to take place on February 25, but SpaceX postponed the liftoff to perform pressurization checks on the Falcon 9’s payload fairing, the nose cone that protects a satellite during liftoff. SpaceX then had to wait until after the successful March 1 launch of the GOES-S weather satellite, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The first Falcon 9 rocket launched in June 2010, with two failures occurring over the rocket’s nearly 8 years in operation. Those two failures occurred in June 2015, when a Falcon 9 broke apart during the launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA; and in September 2016, when a rocket exploded on the launchpad during a routine preflight test.

  • Falcon 9 carried a Spanish communications satellite, Hispasat 30W-6, which Elon Musk revealed is the largest geostationary satellite SpaceX has ever flown.

  • The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite was successfully offloaded into orbit just 33 minutes after the launch from Earth.

  • The satellite is scheduled to settle into geostationary orbit, about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above Earth.

  • SpaceX usually lands Falcon 9 first stages during such missions, as part of the company's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable launch systems. But there was no touchdown attempt this time.

  • Hispasat 30W-6 was built by California company SSL and has a design lifetime of 15 years.

  • Published Date: March 8, 2018 3:01 PM IST