Good things came in threes for SpaceX today: For the third time, it used a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket booster to send a payload into space, and had that booster land itself on an oceangoing platform.
According to SpaceX, the satellite being launched is a "high-powered hybrid Ku and C-band communications satellite" built for United States-based EchoStar and Luxembourg-based SES. The same booster first flew on a February mission to the International Space Station with a Dragon capsule. And that did indeed happen; the Falcon 9's second stage deployed the satellite into its planned geostationary transfer orbit 36 minutes after liftoff. The satellite will cover the Americas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, from the 105 degrees west orbital location. Another launch helped loft the BulgariaSat-1 spacecraft on June 23.
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SpaceX now has a total of 18 Falcon 9 first-stage touchdowns under its belt.
This is the second launch this week for SpaceX, after it competed its Iridium-3 mission on Monday morning.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said he wants to make new boosters a thing of the past, as his company begins using more and more recycled hardware.
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The Falcon 9 rocket "is now standing on the deck", said the SpaceX commentator, as video images showed the smoking rocket securely parked on the platform. The company has the option to renew annually after the the 10-year lease has elapsed.
What time is the SpaceX launch?
SES-11 is a broadcast-focused payload that replaces the 13-year old AMC-18, and is created to support high definition and Ultra-HD television.
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