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.
Falcon 9 flight 50 launches tonight, carrying Hispasat for Spain. At 6 metric tons and almost the size of a city bus, it will be the largest geostationary satellite we’ve ever flown.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2018
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.
First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations pic.twitter.com/TfI53wHEtz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2018
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.