SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a payload from communications satellite company Inmarsat, the fourth in a constellation created to provide high-bandwidth broadband internet globally. The payload is the largest ever launched on a Falcon 9, which is why the mission parameters didn’t call for an attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket.
The launch was originally slated to be done with one of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rockets, but the company has yet to bring those into commercial operation. Instead, the Falcon 9’s top payload capacity has been improved to the point where it can handle delivering the Inmarsat satellite to its target geostationary orbit.
SpaceX’s launch brings the Boeing-made satellite into operation alongside three previously deployed spacecraft, with the intent of this additional one being to add more load capacity to the existing network, and also to provide some backup options in case one of the other geostationary units encounters a problem.
The launch took place at SpaceX’s LC-39A complex at Kennedy in Florida, which SpaceX has leased and repurposed to support Falcon 9 and future Falcon Heavy crewed launches.
The rocket successfully completed its initial second-stage burn, after which it’ll initiate a second in order to move into the correct place in orbit. Once in position, it’ll deploy its satellite payload. We’ll update this story when they return to broadcasting to let you know if the post-launch mission was a success as well.
Update: Total mission success with full satellite deployment achieved.