SpaceX just launched its 50th Falcon 9 rocket and has deployed Spain’s Hispasat 30W-6 satellite into orbit. The liftoff took place from US Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex at 05:33 GMT.
Hispasat 30W-6, is going to be operated by Hispasat, a Spanish communications operator serving Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
Hispasat was first formed in 1989 and its first satellite, Hispasat 1A, launched on an Ariane 4 rocket in 1992. At the moment Hispasat operates seven geostationary communications satellites. This will increase to eight with the successful launch on Tuesday.
Hispasat leases transponders on the board of three third-party satellites, Intelsat 34, Star One C4 and Star One D1, as well.
The second mission for Spanish customers
The Hispasat 30W-6 launch was the second of the missions SpaceX conducted for Spanish customers. The first one was the deployment of the Paz radar imaging satellite last month in February.
The Hispasat launch was originally scheduled shortly after the Paz mission. However, the launch was delayed to allow time for more checks on the pressurization system for Falcon 9’s payload.
Paz is operated by Hisdesat, a partnership between a few Spanish aerospace companies. Hispasat is the largest stakeholder.
Hispasat 30W-6 will operate alongside Hispasat 30W-5, which was formerly Hispasat-1E, providing services including television broadcasting, internet and corporate networking solutions in Europe, the Mediterranean and South America.
The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite is based on the SSL 1300 satellite bus. It is anticipated to have a useful life of at least 15 years and weighs 6,092 kilograms (13,430 lb).
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet on Monday that the satellite was 'almost the size of a city bus.' With this size, the Hispasat is the largest geostationary satellite SpaceX has ever flown.
Falcon 9 flight 50 launches tonight, carrying Hispasat for Spain. At 6 metric tons and almost the size of a city bus, it will be the largest geostationary satellite we’ve ever flown.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 5 Mart 2018
SpaceX will not try to land the Falcon 9's first stage after launch. This is due to unfavorable weather conditions in the recovery area from Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the company's website said.
Success after failed missions
In the launches that took place before, SpaceX tried to land the first stage of Falcon rockets on the spaceport drone ship, called Of Course I Still Love You, located in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX attempts to re-use rockets, payload fairings, boosters and other parts in efforts to cut down on the cost of each rocket mission. The total cost of a Falcon 9 launch is predicted to reach £44 million ($61m).
The larger Falcon Heavy flights cost about £65 million ($90m) each. The company has been able to use first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters before, as well as a Dragon capsule that was previously used.
In the past few years, SpaceX has experienced some failed missions but after that has been able to complete more than twelve successful journeys to space. It is predicted that SpaceX's Falcon 9 may hit its landmark 50th launch faster than NASA's Atlas V and Space Shuttle programs.
After Tuesday's successful mission, it will have taken the Falcon 9 approximately seven years and nine months to reach its 50th launch. In contrast, it took the Atlas V rocket nine years and seven months to reach that stage. The Space Shuttle took 11 years and five months.