SpaceX successfully launches commercial satellite

SpaceX launched a commercial communications satellite Monday afternoon, the sixth launch of the year for the Elon Musk-led company.

The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite took off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 4:20 p.m. Pacific time. The satellite was deployed about 30 minutes later.

Unlike in past launches, SpaceX did not attempt to land the first-stage booster. Getting the unusually large, 13,500-pound satellite to its geostationary orbit burned more fuel than a typical launch on a Falcon 9.

The satellite is intended to provide additional high-speed broadband capacity for users of London-based satellite communications firm Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. It will orbit the Earth from a roughly fixed position above the ground.

Inmarsat-5 F4 will provide “in-orbit redundancy” — meaning it could serve as a replacement if any of the network’s existing satellites have problems — as well as provide other future capabilities, Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said in an earnings call this month.

SpaceX’s last launch was May 1. That time, the Hawthorne space company — whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — launched a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.


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