After launching a Korean satellite, SpaceX was once again able to safely land the rocket at sea, an extraordinary feat.
SpaceX has done it again, landing a rocket on a pad floating in the middle of the ocean after a successful launch, a huge achievement that continues to hold great promise for driving down the cost of future space travel. The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket delivered the Koreasat-5A communications satellite into space after lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday.
About eight and a half minutes after it lifted off, the first stage of the rocket descended and then landed softly on the SpaceX drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You,” which was located a few hundred miles away from Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. There was a slight hiccup, as a fire broke out at the base of the rocket after the landing, but SpaceX was able to extinguish the fire.
It’s the 19th time that SpaceX has successfully landed a rocket after a launch, part of the company’s larger goal to develop reusable rockets and space vehicles. Doing so would greatly drive down the expense of conducting rocket launches, which founder Elon Musk hopes will usher in a golden age of space exploration.
The following is SpaceX’s press release on the Koreasat-5A mission.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver Koreasat-5A, a commercial communications satellite, to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). SpaceX is targeting launch of Koreasat-5A from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The primary launch window opens on Monday, October 30 at 3:34 p.m. EDT, or 19:34 UTC and closes at 5:58 p.m. EDT, or 21:58 UTC. A backup launch window opens on Tuesday, October 31 at 3:34 p.m. EDT, or 19:34 UTC and closes at 5:58 p.m. EDT, or 21:58 UTC. The satellite will be deployed approximately 36 minutes after liftoff.
Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt a landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Koreasat-5A is a communications satellite operated by KT SAT, South Korea’s sole satellite service provider. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and located at 113°E, Koreasat-5A will provide Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcast, broadband, and backhaul services with its Ku-Band capacity. Koreasat-5A provides KT SAT with 12 Ku-band transponders of 36MHz, and 24 Ku-band transponders of 54MHz. As a replacement for Koreasat-5, Koreasat-5A will expand KT SAT’s coverage across Asia and the Middle East. Unlike other satellites in the Koreasat fleet, Koreasat-5A will provide maritime coverage of the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South China Sea, and East China Sea. Koreasat-5A is also equipped with four extended Ku-band steerable transponders (54 MHz each). These steerable transponders will provide commercial DTH broadcasting services in the North Asia region by the end of this year. KT SAT aspires to be one of the leading satellite operators in the highly competitive Asian market. The company plans to consolidate its overseas offices into one central hub located in a capital city of Southeast Asia to provide a more relevant presence in its target market.
Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center has a history dating back to the early 1960s. Originally built to support the Apollo program, LC-39A supported the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4), and many subsequent Apollo missions, including Apollo 11 in July 1969. Beginning in the late 1970s, LC- 39A was modified to support space shuttle launches, hosting the first and last shuttle missions to orbit in 1981 and 2011, respectively.
In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease with NASA for the use of Launch Complex 39A. Since then, the company has made significant upgrades to modernize the pad’s structures and ground systems, while preserving its important heritage. Extensive modifications to LC-39A have been made to support launches of both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. These upgrades will also enable the pad to serve as the complex from which SpaceX will launch crew rotation missions to and from the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.