SpaceX launched a commercial communications satellite using a Falcon 9 rocket, its third flight in just 12 days. The rocket blasted off on Wednesday evening at 7.38 p.m. (local time) from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, delivering the satellite called the Intelsat 35e to a geostationary transfer orbit, reports Xinhua news agency. The satellite was deployed about 32 minutes after launch. The California-based company tried to launch the satellite on Sunday and Monday, but stopped twice in the final seconds of countdown.
With a launch mass of over 6.7 tonnes, the Intelsat 35e is the heaviest satellite Falcon 9 has ever sent to orbit. As a result, SpaceX did not attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage after launch this time, the company said. The Intelsat 35e, the fourth of the next-generation high throughput satellites for Luxembourg-based Intelsat, aims to provide digital services in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Wednesday’s mission came just 10 days after SpaceX’s first-ever “doubleheader” weekend, when it launched two missions within about 50 hours.
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One saw the launch of BulgariaSat-1, the first geostationary communications satellite in Bulgaria’s history, from the Kennedy Space Centre on June 23. Another had 10 satellites launched to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. satellite phone company Iridium from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California two days later. The Intelsat 35e also marked the 10th of SpaceX’s more than 20 launches planned this year. Last year, the company completed eight successful launches before an explosion during routine ground testing temporarily halted Falcon 9 launches.