SpaceX Launches Giant Communications Satellite, Tries Landing

The launch window opens at 6:35 p.m. and lasts until 8:06 p.m., so if you're in the region, you might just see a rocket in the night sky if you turn your gaze eastward. The launch is meant to deliver the SES-9 commercial communications satellite for SES, a global satellite company, to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

As with other recent launches, SpaceX will try yet again to fly its booster back to an automated ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Friday afternoon, at 6:35 p.m., in the Falcon 9's 22nd mission to space.

Typically, the first stage, the longest, most powerful part of the rocket, uses its enormous thrust to help escape Earth's gravity. SpaceX said in a mission description (PDF) published ahead of time that because of the launch's specific profile, "a successful landing is not expected".

In January 2015, SpaceX tried to land a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship, but the rocket toppled over and exploded.

Watch a live stream of the satellite launch above.

Last week, the company scrubbed the launch "out of an abundance of caution" to ensure the temperature of its liquid oxygen was a low as possible.

SpaceX has already succeeded in landing a Falcon rocket on an on-shore site near the Cape Canaveral pad where it launched, but it has failed in previous attempts to guide rockets back to ocean platforms.

Then on Sunday, the flight computer detected a problem and aborted the launch seconds before liftoff, even though the engines had started to fire.

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