SpaceX Falcon 9 reaches MONEY RING with successful launch
Commercial rocket achieves orbit, deploys communications satellite
The Elon Musk–backed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has made its much-anticipated voyage to geostationary orbit.
We have liftoff...finally!
The company on Tuesday was able to launch the rocket and then maneuver the craft into place above the Earth's equator, where a second burn was able to place the craft into its intended orbit for the deployment of the SES-8 commercial telecommunications satellite.
The craft launched from Florida's famed Cape Canaveral at 5:41pm Eastern time with its payload. Shortly after, the second burn took place and SpaceX announced that the satellite payload had been delivered to orbit.
Restart was good, apogee raised to 80k km (50k miles). Yes!!!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 3, 2013
The launch marks a major victory for SpaceX, which had twice been forced to scrub its first mission to the lucrative geostationary orbit point at which commercial satellites are placed. Known as the Money Ring, reaching the orbit point is seen as essential for any would-be commercial spaceflight company.
SpaceX had previously delivered cargo to the International Space Station with its Dragon delivery system.
The successful launch of the craft comes after a pair of delays set the departure of the Falcon 9 SES-8 mission back by more than a week. Originally scheduled to depart Earth on November 25, the craft was beset by technical problems and its launch had to be postponed. Its departure was pushed back a second time when further issues meant that SpaceX would have to wait even longer for the launch window to re-open.
With the craft in place, SpaceX can now move forward with its plans to commercialize spaceflight and fill the launch gap which has been left by NASA as it looks to develop its next-generation Space Launch System. ®