SpaceX launches Es'hail-2 satellite, ties launch record

Cristina Cross
November 18, 2018

Earlier, Es'hailSat, the Qatar Satellite Company, announced the safe arrival of Es'hail-2 satellite at the SpaceX launch facility, in preparation for the launch. If that happens, it would be a major first to see the same rocket successfully carry out three orbital missions.

Weather forecasts cite a 40 percent chance that rain showers or high-level winds could disrupt the 3:46 p.m. liftoff, which would push the launch further into its window until 5:29 p.m. Two radio antennas were on board the spacecraft, marking the first time an amateur radio transponder was sent into geostationary orbit. The drone ship had already set off from Port Canaveral on November 11 as Falcon 9 B1047 is put onto the Pad 39A for a pre-flight static fire test wherein the rocket will be refilled with a complement of fluids along with nine Merlin 1D engines ignition check prior to the real launch. SpaceX has scheduled a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station in early December, and the US Air Force's first third-generation Global Positioning System navigation satellite is set to launch after that. Both Es'hail satellites are operated by Qatar's state-owned Es'hailSat telecom venture.

What is Falcon 9? The rocket reusability is a breakthrough needed to reduce the cost of access to space and enable people to live on other planets, according to SpaceX. Es'hail 2 features high-speed Ku- and Ka-band communications services. During the booster's final moments of its return, the engined reignited to, allowing the four legs of the booster to be deployed at the base of the rocket. Television views provided by SpaceX showed the stage smoothly descending to touchdown about eight minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff. Since May, all launches by SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have taken place late at night or predawn hours.

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In all, SpaceX launched a total of 18 mission this year, equaling the number of missions it had for the entire 2017.

The landing was SpaceX's 31st successful recovery, its 19th on off-shore drone ships in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

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