Editor's Update: SpaceX has successfully launched the SES-8 satellite into orbit with its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. For the full story, read: SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket On High-Stakes Commercial Satellite Mission
The private spaceflight company SpaceX is counting down to launch a critical commercial satellite mission from Florida today (Dec. 3) after two delays due to technical glitches, and you can watch the liftoff live online.
An upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch the huge SES-8 communications satellite into orbit from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:41 p.m. EST (2241 GMT). The mission will mark SpaceX's first Florida launch of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, its first major communications satellite launch and its first flight to a high geostationary transfer orbit needed for commercial satellites. The mission has a 66-minute launch window, with Wednesday reserved as a backup day, SpaceX officials said.
Today's launch try will mark SpaceX's third attempt to launch the SES-8 spacecraft for satellite communications provider SES World Skies. SpaceX aborted the two earlier launch attempts last week, first on Nov. 25 and again on Nov. 28, due to technical glitches. [Mission Photos: SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launching Landmark Satellite Flight]
"All known rocket anomalies have been resolved, " SpaceX officials wrote in a status update Monday (Dec. 2).
SpaceX has much riding on a successful launch today. Sending the 6, 918-lb. (3, 138 kilograms) SES-8 satellite into its intended orbit, which ranges from 183 miles (295 kilometers) above Earth at its nearest point and 49, 709 miles (80, 000 km) at its highest point, will mark the company's entry into the commercial satellite market. The SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku-and Ka-band spacecraft built to provide high-definition telecommunications services to customers across the South Asia and Pacific region.
"The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer, " SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell told reporters in Nov. 24 teleconference before SpaceX's first launch attempt. "It's going to really shake the industry to its roots."
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