Enjoy Your HD Cat Videos, Indonesia: SpaceX Sends Up Satellite Successfully

The big story in space this week was all about the man who fell to Earth, but it's worth noting that another important mission was headed UP.  Namely, the SpaceX SES-9 payload of a communications satellite that will provide critical connectivity from its place in space...

{Space}X Gon' Give It To Ya!
(Image courtesy Ken Kremer / universetoday.com.)

According to CNN, the SpaceX company was successful in launching a 5.3 ton communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida, yesterday evening.  The mission, which had been delayed six times since the initial planned launch on February 25th, continued after no problems with the weather, fuel, boats, or alligators (hey, it's Florida) were found to pose a threat to liftoff.

"Oh, you'll send dogs and monkeys into space, but not me?
I only tried to eat one astronaut!"
(Image courtesy nbcnews.com.)

A Falcon 9 rocket launched the satellite into geosynchronous orbit, which means the satellite will appear stationary in relation to the part of the world it hovers over.  This is particularly difficult to achieve, as geosynchronous orbit requires the satellite to be placed some 22,000 miles away from the planet (over 100 times further out than the International Space Station!)  Not to mention, according to Wired, to hit its faraway target, the Falcon 9 needed to achieve speeds of up to 9,000 km/hr, as opposed to the usual 6,000 km/hr needed to reach the ISS.

Hence the cheering at 01:54 when propulsion is declared nominal.
Going supersonic is the most stressful element on the vehicle,
but the mission was accomplished! 
The huge cheers at 03:00 are in regards to the second-stage engines firing successfully.
(Video courtesy Stephen Cane.)

Since so much rocket fuel was expended to achieve this speed and distance, there was very little left over to attempt a rocket landing.  But SpaceX founder Elon Musk (he of Tesla and Hyperloop fame) didn't get his Badass Billionaire status by not attempting awesome things, so the team tried anyway.  In their ceaseless quest to create a reusable rocket, the SpaceX team made an attempt to land their returning rocket off the Florida coast, on the appropriately-named barge Of Course I Still Love You.

"Of course, I'd love you more if this could happen."
(Image courtesy gif-finder.com.)

Despite the fact that three previous attempts at landing a rocket on a barge have failed (not even including that one time where the whole damn rocket exploded), the team showed admirable effort.  Musk himself admitted that he did not expect to stick the landing, telling Twitter, "Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn't expect this one to work (v hot reentry), but next flight has a good chance.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)."  The explosive landing notwithstanding, the mission's main objective was a success.

Actual onboard-camera image of the comm satellite deploying.
Enjoy your internet, remote parts of Asia!
(Image courtesy wired.com.)

As reported by Space.com, the SpaceX team explained that the SES-9 satellite "...will provide expansion and replacement capacity to serve the video, enterprise, mobility and government sectors in fast-growing markets across Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia...The additional capacity on SES-9 will enable direct-to-home operators to broadcast more local content and increase their SD and HDTV channel lineup to 22 million households across Asia-Pacific, in markets such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines."  The full mission description can be viewed here.

Join us tomorrow for even more spectacularity from space as we report on the landing of a very special Soyuz, plus a retrospective on the adventures of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his near-yearlong mission aboard the ISS!  Watch this space...

We will never not love you, crazy spacefaring ideas.
(Image courtesy techcrunch.com.)

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