SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, lands booster.
SpaceX kicked off the second half of its 2018 launch schedule early Sunday with the successful delivery of a Canadian telecommunications satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — already the company’s 13th launch of the year.
The mission was the first of two planned in less than a month for Ottawa-based Telesat, and potentially the first of four SpaceX could fly during the same period from the Eastern and Western ranges, with the next targeted for Wednesday morning from California.
At 1:50 a.m. Sunday, July 22, a 230-foot Falcon 9 rocket fired nine Merlin main engines to rumble from Launch Complex 40 on time at the opening of a four-hour window.
Less than 33 minutes later, after two burns by the rocket’s upper stage, the more than 15,500-pound Telstar 19 Vantage satellite was released on its way to an orbit high over the equator.
Earlier, about eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster dropped to a tail-first landing on legs on the deck of a SpaceX ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The booster — the 26th SpaceX has landed — should return to Port Canaveral within three or four days.
Sunday’s mission opened a new phase in SpaceX’s push to fly reusable rockets again and again.
It was the second flight by the latest and final version of the Falcon 9, which SpaceX calls Block 5.
Company CEO Elon Musk expects the upgraded booster to be able to fly at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between missions. The previous version, Block 4, was limited to two flights.