SpaceX successfully launched a secretive spy satellite toward orbit on Monday morning, following a slight delay. As a result, the Falcon 9 used virtually all of its first-stage propellants lifting the payload out of the lower atmosphere and it was not possible to fly the booster back to a landing.
SpaceX has several heavier satellites on its manifest for the coming months, but the13, 417-pound Inmarsat 5 F4 satellite is the biggest test of the lifting capability of the Falcon 9 to date.
Instead, the spent rocket will fall into the Atlantic Ocean, as numerous rocket boosters did before SpaceX and others like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin led the charge toward reusable rockets.
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The Falcon 9 deployed the satellite about 32 minutes after launch, right on schedule. SpaceX is not expected to recover Falcon 9 post takeoff.
The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at the beginning of the launch window, at 7:21 p.m. ET (4:21 p.m. PT). Plus, the satellite is going into a particularly high orbit called Geostationary Transfer Orbit - a path 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface.
So far, 10 Falcon 9 first stages have returned intact after launching, including one rocket that has now flown twice.
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The satellite, known as I-5 F4, represents the fourth satellite in the company's fifth-generation fleet of satellites. It's the private company's 6th successful flight this year. According to Universe Today, SpaceX is targeting for launch at twilight which will provide a rare sky show for those within the area.
The company is gearing up to launch a rocket every two weeks following investigations into explosions in 2015 and 2016 the temporarily grounded flights for periods.
The Inmarsat-5 series of satellite is built on the Boeing 702HP satellite bus.
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The three earlier satellites in the $1.6 billion constellation were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by Russian rockets.