SpaceX has launched its 50th Falcon 9 rocket to orbit

Glen Norman
March 7, 2018

SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space early Tuesday from Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch is planned for 12:33 a.m. Tuesday.

The rocket will carry a spaceship for Hispasat, a 25-year-old operating company for different Spanish communications satellites. However, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will not be recovered due to unfavourable weather conditions in the recovery area.

SpaceX commonly lands Falcon 9 first stages during such missions, as part of the company's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable launch systems.

The launch pad roared back to life in December, when it hosted a SpaceX mission that sent 4,800 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station. The company tends to refer to all three versions as one extended family, taking the total number of missions to 50 with the latest launch. This will increase to eight with the successful launch on Tuesday. It takes one day for them to complete each orbit and are typically used for communications like satellite TV or satellite navigation systems. The satellites will be used by Hispasat to provide broadband and other services to North Africa, Latin America, and the Iberian Peninsula, and others.

A SpaceX drone ship with a Falcon 9 first stage which was recovered after the Formosat-5 mission, August 24, 2017. The company has been able to use first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters before, as well as a Dragon capsule that was previously used.

Tuesday's launch was delayed from February 25 for tests of the pressurization system in the Falcon 9 rocket's nose cone, which worked as planned during the launch. It is predicted that SpaceX's Falcon 9 may hit its landmark 50th launch faster than NASA's Atlas V and Space Shuttle programs. The satellite is expected to deploy about 33 minutes after the rocket launches, according to a SpaceX release.

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