SpaceX poised for 50th launch of Falcon 9 rocket

March 5, 2018
SpaceX is poised to make its 50th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, like this one used in September to send an an unmanned X-37B drone into space

SpaceX is poised for the 50th launch of its signature Falcon 9 rocket early Tuesday, marking a swift ascent to a milestone many aerospace giants take far longer to attain.

The launch of the Falcon 9 carrying the Hispasat, a Spanish telecommunications and broadband , is scheduled for 12:33 am (0533 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"At six metric tons and almost the size of a city bus, it will be the largest geostationary satellite we've ever flown," SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said on Twitter.

The satellite aims to expand television, broadband and telecommunications service in Europe and Northwest Africa.

The Falcon 9 first flew in 2010, and since then has become the California-based company's workhorse for sending supplies to the International Space Station, launching commercial satellites and secretive government payloads.

Powered by nine Merlin engines, the Falcon 9's first stage has also mastered the art of landing upright on solid ground or on floating platforms in the ocean after launch.

These "recycled" are part of SpaceX's goal to lower the cost of spaceflight and re-use expensive rocket parts instead of tossing them in the ocean after each launch.

But SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9's booster Tuesday "due to unfavorable weather conditions in the recovery area off of Florida's Atlantic Coast," said a company statement.

According to the website ArsTechnica, SpaceX reaching 50 launches is "double the maximum number of flights the Atlas V (2014 and 2015) and space shuttle (1985) performed during their most prolific years."

Musk's grand visions for space exploration include sending tourists into orbit around the Moon and eventually, colonizing Mars.

Last month, SpaceX launched its monster Falcon Heavy rocket—three times as powerful as the Falcon 9—for the first time, propelling Musk's own Tesla roadster with a spacesuit-clad dummy at the wheel into an orbit near Mars.

Explore further: SpaceX's Elon Musk to launch his own car into deep space

Related Stories

SpaceX poised to launch secretive Zuma mission

November 16, 2017

SpaceX is poised to launch on Thursday a secretive payload known as Zuma for the US government, though the nature of the mission and the agency behind it remain a mystery.

SpaceX launches, lands recycled rocket

October 12, 2017

SpaceX on Wednesday launched a rocket that had already flown to space and landed it successfully on an ocean platform, as part of its ongoing effort to recycle costly rocket components.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.