SpaceX kick-started the 2021 launch year by sending Turksat 5A to orbit, a Turkish communications satellite.
Elon Musk's company's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off of Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40 at 9:15 PM EST on Thursday night, within its four-hour launch window.
The Turksat 5A satellite is set to reside in space for the next 15 years.
Yesterday's launch marked the first of SpaceX's planned 48 launches for 2021. Other missions include numerous Starlink missions, resupply flights to the International Space Station, GPS satellite launches, National Reconnaissance Office missions, a NASA asteroid planetary defense test flight, and potentially up to four crewed missions, as reported by NASA Spaceflight.
Last night's launch saw SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket's first stage land safely back on one of the company's drone ships, "Just Read the Instructions," stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the fourth launch for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, as Space explained.
The company's fairing catcher ships, "Ms Tree" and "Ms Chief" were stationed at-the-ready to catch the two halves of the payload's fairing.
Approximately 33 minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9 safely deposited the Turksat 5A satellite into orbit. From there, it will take the satellite around four months to reach its final altitude.
The communications satellite weighs a total of 7,716 lbs (3,500 kg) and is built around the all-electric Eurostar E3000EOR bus complete with a power system that can create 12 kW for its 42 Ku-band transponders. These are set to service Turkey, the Middle East, continental Europe, and certain sections of Africa.
Turksat 5A's counterpart, Turksat 5B, is due to launch later this year as Turkey looks to increase its space presence. Turksat 5A has been built for civilian use and is an important push forward for Turkey's space-based operations.
Watch the full launch video below.