SpaceX's Falcon 9 To Send Satellite During Daylight Launch

Es'hail-2 SpaceX Falcon 9

The launch of Es'hail-2 on a Falcon 9 rocket tied SpaceX's launch record set last year of 18 launches in one year. Credit SpaceX webcast

The satellite will provide communications for the Middle East and parts of North Africa.

SpaceX successfully launched Qatar's Es'hail-2 satellite today, marking its first mission for the state. If that happens, it would be a major first to see the same rocket successfully carry out three orbital missions.

Minutes after launch, the Falcon 9's second stage separated from the first stage and continued the push to geostationary transfer orbit. The launch window today runs for almost 2 hours, closing at 5:29 p.m. EST, (2229 GMT). The first go-round came in July when the booster helped launch the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite and came back down for recovery and refurbishment. The closely held company's valuation has climbed to about $28 billion as it's racked up successful launches, making it the third-most valuable venture-backed startup in the USA after Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. After a near-bankruptcy and a string of failures, Musk's company relied on funding from NASA to build Falcon 9.

To get there, the satellite's on-board propulsion system will be used to raise the low-point of the orbit and maneuver the spacecraft into the proper position to serve the Middle East. Es'hail 2 features high-speed Ku- and Ka-band communications services.

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The Es'hail mission is first time in six months SpaceX will use pad 39A. Television views provided by SpaceX showed the stage smoothly descending to touchdown about eight minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff.

SpaceX conducted this year on 18 successful launches, which allowed us to repeat last year's result by the number of launches in a calendar year. The rocket experienced some serious problems along the way, but the company's number of successful launches has nearly made them boring over the past few years.

Rocket launch at Cape Canaveral took place on Thursday, November 15, 22.46 CET.

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