Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launches AsiaSat 8 Telecom Satellite Into Orbit

A high-powered AsiaSat 8 telecommunications satellite blasted into space atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early Tuesday morning (Aug. 5).

The Falcon 9 rocket, which was carrying the AsiaSat 8 spacecraft, lifted off from SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:00 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) Tuesday, tracing an arc of orange flame across the dark southeastern skies on the fourth Falcon 9 flight of 2014.

The launch was originally scheduled for 1:25 a.m. EDT Tuesday, but an issue with the rocket's first stage caused a 2.5-hour delay.

The launch plan calls for the rocket to deliver AsiaSat 8 to a highly elliptical "transfer orbit," but the satellite will eventually make its way to geosynchronous orbit about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above the planet.

From there, AsiaSat 8 will look down on much of Asia, providing a variety of telecom services to customers in the region over the next 15 years.

"AsiaSat 8 will provide exceptional power and additional Ku beam coverage with inter-beam switching capability for services including DTH [direct-to-home] television, private networks and broadband services," representatives for the Hong Kong-based firm AsiaSat (short for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Ltd.) wrote in an online description of the satellite, which was built by Space Systems/Loral.

The craft "will be the most powerful member of AsiaSat's fleet, with a payload power of about 8,500 watts," the description said.

In a departure from several recent SpaceX launches, Tuesday morning's liftoff did not include a rocket-reusability test as a secondary objective.

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