SpaceX successfully launches huge 7,060kg satellite into space

Monday morning saw SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket take to the skies from its Florida launchpad as Elon Musk’s space-faring company began and completed its 16th successful mission of 2018.

After a slew of storms saw its launch window extended by around an hour, and hopes of a clean launch were feared dashed, Musk and the SpaceX team could breathe a sigh of relief. Ten minutes after the launch, the rocket’s second stage completed its burn, with satellite deployment taking place around 40 minutes after liftoff.

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The rocket in question was a new Block 5 version of the famous Falcon 9 booster, whose role in this particular mission was to launch a huge telecommunications satellite into orbit. Weighing a not-so-negligible 7,060kg, the satellite is the second heaviest SpaceX has ever flown, making it something of a high-risk mission.

Nonetheless, the launch was pulled off with aplomb; the rocket’s first stage landed out in the Atlantic Ocean, in the whimsically named Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, some 660km from SpaceX’s Florida spaceport.

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SpaceX continues to saturate the space technology industry in the US, with news that, thus far in 2018, two-thirds of orbital launches in the US have been deployed by Musk’s company. Back in April, it was widely reported that SpaceX was about to become the third most valuable private tech company in the US, making it a firm of mammoth stature.

As ever, this success isn’t quelling Musk’s insatiable appetite for world domination. Next up on SpaceX’s never-ceasing agenda is the flight of an Argentinian satellite from California next month, a feat which, if it comes to fruition, would mark the company’s first land-based landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast.

In the meantime, Musk continues to be subjected to an onslaught of internet mockery, thanks to his unfounded “pedo” claims and a slightly gauche appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, in which he smoked a joint with the podcast’s host. Some things never change.

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