Sunday, September 7, 2014

SpaceX Night Time Launch: AsiaSat 6 Satellite Lifted Into Orbit

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket streaks across the night sky on Sept. 7, 2014 in this long-exposure view of the AsiaSat 6 satellite launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Credit: SpaceX

The private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully launched a new commercial telecommunications satellite for Asia early Sunday (Sept. 7) in a dazzling nighttime liftoff that ended a nearly two-week delay for the mission.

A SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) Sunday, carrying the AsiaSat 6 satellite into space for Hong Kong-based firm AsiaSat.

The launch was originally scheduled for Aug. 26, but SpaceX pushed it back to give engineers time to investigate the self-destruction of its Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) rocket during an Aug. 22 flight test in Texas.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the AsiaSat 6 satellite lifts off from the spaceflight company's launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sept. 7, 2014 in this still from a SpaceX launch webcast. 

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX's F9R rocket prototype is quite different than the company's operational Falcon 9 booster, so the mishap did not raise any specific red flags about SpaceX's commercial liftoffs, company representatives said.

But SpaceX wanted to do a thorough check of its launch systems regardless, to make sure all is well. 

"What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a statement late last month.

Sunday's launch appeared to go off without a hitch, with SpaceX declaring the mission a success about 30 minutes after liftoff.

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