Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private space exploration company SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite into orbit Tuesday aboard its revolutionary reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
The rocket blasted into orbit from the company’s Cape Canaveral launch complex in Florida some two and-a-half hours after its target time of 1:25 a.m. Less than a minute before ignition, a computer reported a problem with the rocket’s first-stage engine, which was resolved in time for liftoff at 4 a.m.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 5, 2014
The AsiaSat 8 spacecraft built by Palo Alto-based Space Systems/Loral carried a new communications satellite built by Hong Kong-based AsiaSat 22,300 miles above Asia, according to Reuters, where it will provide communications services to areas in China, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. (RELATED: SpaceX Releases Video Of Its Reusable Rocket Landing [VIDEO])
“The addition of AsiaSat 8 to our existing fleet of four in-orbit satellites will expand our fleet capacity and enable us to serve a wider range of customers for advanced satellite services, from DTH, data broadcasting to broadband services,” AsiaSat President William Wade said in a statement.
Tuesday’s launch was the first of two SpaceX flights for AsiaSat planned for this month, and SpaceX’s second in three weeks. The company currently has a backlog of almost 40 missions.
In a later tweet, Musk reported that the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which is designed to land vertically after missions and be reused, successfully re-entered the atmosphere, but as expected, did not have enough propellant left over from the long-distance mission to land.