U.S. SpaceX launches first commercial satellite

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (PNA/Xinhua) — A SpaceX rocket carrying the U.S. space company’s first commercial satellite blasted off from Florida on Tuesday in a mission that will usher in a newcomer in the global launch services industry.

The Falcon 9 rocket launched the commercial SES-8 telecommunications satellite for satellite services provider SES from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 05:41 p.m. EST ( 2241 GMT), the California-based company’s live webcast showed.

The launch was originally set to take place last week, but was delayed twice due to technical and engine problems.

The mission marks the company’s first launch to a geostationary transfer orbit, about 80,000 km from Earth, SpaceX said.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier that this launch was the “toughest mission to date.”

This is only the second launch of the new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1. The first launch occurred on Sept. 29 on a demonstration test flight from a SpaceX pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying a Canadian weather satellite to an elliptical Earth orbit.

SES chief technology officer praised SpaceX as a “game-changer” in the launch services industry, space news site Space.com reported.

“Let me put this very, very clearly,” Martin Halliwell, SES chief technology officer, was quoted by as saying. “The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer. It’s going to really shake the industry to its roots.”

Founded in 2002, SpaceX already has a 1.6-billion-U.S.-dollar deal with U.S. space agency NASA to launch at least 12 commercial cargo missions to the International Space Station using its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon space capsules. Two of those missions have been flown, with the third slated to fly in February. (PNA/Xinhua)