SpaceX marked the 50th Falcon 9 mission deploying the Spanish Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite into orbit. Although SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk Tweeted that the satellite would be the largest the provider had ever launched into a geostationary orbit, a post on the company’s website confirmed it was the third largest.
The Falcon 9 carrying the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite lifted off from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 05:33 GMT (00:33 EST) on March 6. A recovery of the rocket’s first stage booster was not attempted due to unfavourable weather conditions.
Thirty-three minutes into the flight, the Spanish communications satellite was deployed successfully. HISPASAT mission controllers have since confirmed that the satellite’s solar panels extended without incident and that it is operating nominally under its own power.
Following the launch, HISPASAT CEO Carlos Espinós outlined the importance of the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite in a press release published on the company’s website.
“Hispasat 30W-6 allows us to broaden capacity and services while completing the current phase of the company’s growth plan,” said Espinós. “In the hyperconnected world in which we live, access to quality broadband is an essential need for economic, social and even personal development, and this satellite fulfils this need in places other technologies cannot reach.”
The Hispasat 30W-6 is now manoeuvring into its test phase geostationary orbit. Once positioned, the satellite will undergo a battery of tests to ensure it’s mission ready. Testing is likely to last several weeks. Once completed, the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite will be manoeuvred into its final orbiting position of 30° West.
The 50th Falcon 9 Mission
This morning’s launch marked an important milestone for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and the private launch provider that builds it, SpaceX. The launch of Hispasat 30W-6 satellite marks the 50th Falcon 9 mission undertaken by the provider.
The now iconic SpaceX launch vehicle has suffered just two major failures and one partial failure in its tenure. Notable Falcon 9 launches include the first privately funded liquid-fueled rocket to reach orbit, the first privately developed rocket to launch a spacecraft to the ISS, and the first orbital rocket to return to Earth and land upright.
The Falcon 9 is scheduled for a second launch this month deploying an additional 10 Iridium Next satellites on March 29. The launch will utilise a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage and is expected to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 14:19 GMT (09:19 EST).
Image Credit: SpaceX