The BulgariaSat-1 Mission launched at 3:10 p.m. ET on Friday, under 90 percent favorable weather conditions, and delivered a commercial communications satellite into orbit. This marks the twelfth time SpaceX has performed one of these reusable rocket landings, and was, according to the company, the most challenging of them all. On Sunday, a Falcon 9 will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 satellites for the company Iridium.
The Iridium Next satellite network will provide - among other services - global real-time surveillance of all flights. The booster first flew a payload to orbit in January, and SpaceX refurbished it in time for this flight.
The Bulgarian satellite will enter an orbit located 36,000 kilometers from Earth, in order to serve its goal, which is spreading high quality TV programmes. Kudos to Musk and SpaceX for another successful launch and recovery, even if the landing was a bit rough.
The mission for SpaceX employees is fairly simple: Reduce the cost of access to space so that humans can become a multi-planetary species. About three minutes after liftoff, when the rocket was about 42 miles from Earth, the booster detached from the upper-stage rocket and began descending. He tweeted earlier on Friday that there was a "good chance" SpaceX wouldn't successfully recover the rocket because the mission requirements meant it would have a hard trip home.
"Rocket is extra toasty and hit the deck hard (used nearly all of the emergency crush core), but otherwise good", SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the landing.
Before the launch, the CEO of the company BulgariaSat and its affiliate Bulsatcom, Maxim Zayakov, thanked SpaceX for making space projects possible for small countries as well as companies like his.
The rapid-fire launch schedule over the past two months reflects SpaceX's drive to work off a backlog of satellites delayed by earlier problems, including a September 1 launch pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its satellite payload at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Falcon 9 will launch the Bulgarian satellite from LC-39A pad, home of the historic Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
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