Third Try's a Charm for SpaceX's First Launch to GTO

Third Try's a Charm for SpaceX's First Launch to GTO

SpaceX succeeded today in launching the SES-8 communications satellite.  This was the company’s third try — or sixth depending on how one counts it.

Three attempts on November 25 and two on November 28 failed to leave the pad for a variety of technical reasons.   Today’s countdown, however, proceeded nominally and launch took place at 5:41 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) from Cape Canaveral, FL.  

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 lifts off from Cape Canaveral, FL carrying SES-8 satellite, December 3, 2013.  Photo credit:  SpaceX

Getting off the launch pad was only the first step, though.   The Falcon 9 v1.1’s second stage had to reignite in order to continue boosting the satellite into its correct orbit.  This is only the second flight of this version of the Falcon 9 and second stage reignition did not work on its inaugural launch in September.   SpaceX ended live coverage of the launch prior to that critical event, providing updates only via Twitter and on its website.    It tweeted (@SpaceX) at 6:12 pm ET that “#Falcon9 second stage restart burn successful. Orbit looks nominal.”

SES-8 is owned by Luxembourg-based SES, one of the largest communications satellite operators in the world with a fleet of 54 satellites, not including this one.

The Falcon 9 v1.1’s job is to place SES-8 into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) at 295 x 80,000 kilometers (km).    The satellite eventually will be circularized into geostationary orbit (GEO) at 35,800 km using other propulsion.


User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.