SpaceX finally launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a massive communications satellite on its third try on Wednesday evening (5 July) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The space company, owned by Elon Musk, smoothly delivered the heavy Intelsat 35e communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit in its 10th successful launch in 2017 and third flight in less than two weeks.
Previous launch attempts on Saturday and Sunday were scrubbed due to last second technical issues. In both attempts, the countdown was halted just seconds before launch by SpaceX's computers.
While the first launch attempt was scrapped due to an "out-of-limits" reading in the rocket's guidance and navigation system, Sunday's launch was scrubbed due to "a violating of abort criteria".
Early on 4 July, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the SpaceX team would spend the holiday conducting a "full review of rocket and pad systems", noting that they were not planning to launch earlier than Wednesday or Thursday.
"Only one chance to get it right..." Musk tweeted.
About 32 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed that the Intelsat satellite, one of the company's heaviest payloads yet, had been safely deployed to its target geostationary transfer orbit.
Due to the immense weight of the satellite and its delivery into geostationary orbit about 23,000 miles above Earth, the rocket would not have enough fuel reserves to attempt a safe, guided landing as SpaceX has done in recent weeks.
The Boeing-built Intelsat 35e satellite will deliver high performance services in C- and Ku-bands to customers in the Caribbean as well as mobility and government customers in Latin America, Europe and Africa.
"The successful launch of Intelsat 35e is a major milestone in our business plan for 2017, furthering the footprint and resilience of our Intelsat EpicNGinfrastructure," Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler, said in a statement. "With each Intelsat EpicNG launch, we advance our vision of creating a global, high performance for our customers that will unlock new growth opportunities in applications including mobility, wireless infrastructure and private data networks."
SpaceX's next launch is Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station scheduled for liftoff on 10 August.