Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Debuts from Vandenberg

January 5, 2018 – 10:30 am

Falcon911Launch_SpaceX4X3.jpgWASHINGTON — Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) successfully debuted a new and more powerful variant of its Falcon 9 rocket Sept. 29, lofting an experimental Canadian satellite and paving the way for the company’s upcoming first launch of a geostationary-orbiting communications satellite.

However, the company was unable to demonstrate a reignition of the rocket’s upper stage following the deployment of the Canadian Space Agency’s experimental Cassiope space-environment monitoring satellite and multiple secondary payloads. A second burn will be required during SpaceX’s next mission, intended to place the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit for satellite operator SES of Luxembourg.

SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk characterized the issue that forced the abort of the second upper-stage burn as minor and said the company expects to resolve it in relatively short order. During a post-launch teleconference with reporters, Musk said the SES-8 launch is still scheduled for October, but hinted that a few extra weeks might be needed to fully understand what happened.

Musk noted that Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has demonstrated reignition of the Merlin 1D engine multiple times on the test stand. The said the abort during the demonstration flight likely had to do with the environmental differences between sea level and space.

“It’s nothing fundamental, Musk said.

After a number of delays, the first Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, a stretch version of the vehicle that also features new engines and a larger-diameter fairing, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., around 9 a.m. local time and successfully deployed its payloads shortly thereafter. The new variant is needed to launch telecom satellites to geostationary transfer orbit and to carry larger cargo loads to the international space station.

Source: spacenews.com

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