A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a Telstar 18 Vantage communications satellite into orbit Monday before returning for a successful drone-ship landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:45 a.m. East Coast Times and launced the communications satellite into orbit 32 minutes later. Less than 109 minutes after liftoff, the rocket booster stuck a landing aboard SpaceX’s East Coast drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You.”
But Torrance-based SpaceX did not attempt Monday to recover the payload fairing, the protective nose cone that surrounds a satellite during launch. It has tried to do so in the past, but without success.The company has tried to do so during several previous liftoffs using a net-equipped boat named Mr. Steven but hasn’t had any luck thus far.
Monday’s mission used the new “Block 5” variant of the Falcon 9 rocket and was the fourth to use this updated model, according to reports from Cape Canaveral. While the previous Telstar mission launched on a reused Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket in July, Monday’s launch relied on a spanking new rocket.
Telstar 18V is the third satellite in a series launched by the Canadian company Telesat. It will be the first satellite in this fleet to provide coverage over the Asia-Pacific region, providing constant broadband communications services to China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean region, according to Telesat executives.
Monday’s launch was the 15th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket this year and the 18th successful drone-ship landing since SpaceX landed its first rocket booster at sea in 2016. The next SpaceX mission is scheduled to launch Oct. 7 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A Earth-observation satellite.