A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida early Monday, boosting a powerful SES satellite into space that will deliver direct-to-home TV, broadband and data relay services to customers across the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and the Middle East.
The first stage has flown once before, in September 2017, carrying the robotic X-37B space plane for the U.S. military. The booster then came back to Earth for a pinpoint landing shortly after that liftoff, but won’t do this for the SES-12 mission. BBecausethe first stage is an earlier-generation block 4 booster, it is limited to just two flights and no attempt will be made to recover the rocket. Instead, the spent stage simply crased back into the ocean.
“The launch vehicle is expendable,” said Martin Halliwell, chief technical officer for SES. “We won’t be attempting a landing. We’ve actually stripped everything off the first stage, there are no landing legs on board, so this is going straight into the ocean.”
The launch was delayed for four days from its June 1 date due to unspecified technical issues. The rocket tracked away in an easterly direction after launch putting on a mesmerizing display of light as it headed out of Earth’s lower atmosphere.
The company is targeting roughly 30 missions in total this year, up from a record 18 in 2017.