SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Thai Communications Sat


On Monday, Space Exploration Technologies kicked off what it expects to be a very busy year with a successful rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Liftoff of the firm’s eighth Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a communications satellite for Thailand and surrounding areas, occurred at 5:06 p.m. EST. Thirty-one minutes later, the Thaicom 6 satellite, designed to beam high-definition and digital TV signals and provide other communications services, was released into a temporary parking orbit that stretches more than 55,900 miles from Earth.

PHOTOS: Dragon’s Bounty: SpaceX Mission Complete

Ultimately, Thaicom 6, which cost about $160 million to build and launch, will be positioned into an operational orbit about 22,300 miles above the planet.

The launch marked the second time a Falcon 9 rocket  delivered a commercial communications satellite into orbit, a further sign that SpaceX’s cut-rate launch services will  reshape the global satellite launch industry.

NEWS: (Another) Giant Leap For SpaceX: Geostationary Orbit

The flight also marked the third mission of the company’s upgraded Falcon 9 booster, a milestone that could clear it to enter a lucrative competition to fly U.S. military satellites.

Privately owned SpaceX, which was founded in 2002 by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, also has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly cargo to the International Space Station. Its next flight, slated for February, will be its third of 12 planned station resupply runs.

Recommended for you