A Boeing-built communications satellite was launched early this morning aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 for telecommunications startup Kacific.
The JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite was launched aboard a flight-proven Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral at 00:10 UTC. Main engine cutoff and first stage separation occurred approximately two and a half minutes later. The second stage was then successfully ignited and completed a five-minute burn. Following a 19-minute coast phase, a second burn, and a second shorter coast phase, the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 satellite was deployed into a Geosynchronous orbit.
Prior to this morning’s launch, SpaceX announced plans to recover the booster and both fairing halves. The Falcon 9 booster (B1056) was recovered successfully touching down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the third time B1056 had been recovered. The fairing recovery, however, did not go as well.
The Falcon 9 fairing was successfully deployed approximately three and a half minutes after liftoff. As the fairing halves drifted back down to Earth under parachutes, the SpaceX Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief recovery ships raced to get into position to attempt a catch. However, soon after the expected catch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed that neither fairing half had been caught.
Despite the failure, Musk confirmed that according to telemetry both fairing halves had completed a soft touchdown on the ocean. The fairings halves will, as a result, be recovered and may still be in a condition conducive for reuse.