SpaceX succesfully deploys EchoStar XXIII satellite into space

Eastern from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, during the scheduled backup window.

Succeeding in its mission on Wednesday after its original attempt that was planned for Tuesday had to be scrubbed because of bad weather conditions, SpaceX successfully launched an EchoStar communications satellite into orbit. The satellite EchoStar 23 helps to provide broadcast services for Brazil.

This launch did not include a first stage return landing because the large amount of fuel required to put the satellite into its orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth did not leave enough for a booster landing.

The launch took place at 2.00 a.m.

Unlike recent SpaceX flights, there were no landing legs or steering fins on the Falcon 9's first stage.


Later that day, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter that the EchoStar satellite had been delivered to the geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The reiteration of Falcon 9 will possibly be the final upgrade for the rocket.

For the last decade, a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture called the United Launch Alliance has been the only company allowed to bid on launching military satellites into space. The combined weight of the EchoStar 23 satellite loaded atop the Falcon 9 rocket was almost 12,345 pounds or 5,600 kilograms at the time of launch. Elon Musk first unveiled the Falcon Heavy back in 2005 where it was described as 3 Falcon 9's joined together. Future payloads of this nature will go up on the improved Falcon 9 Block 5 or the untested Falcon Heavy rocket.

The contracts, while not putting a major financial dent into the billion-dollar industry, potentially represent an uptick in the region's space industry.

Musk's company had won a satellite launch contract worth $82.7 million with the Air Force in 2016. The $96.5 million contract is the second of nine launch contracts the Air Force plans to put up for bid throughout 2017.

This is the second military contract that Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has snagged since winning approval in 2015 to bid on the deals, and therefore introducing competition into USA space launch services.

  • Joey Payne