On third attempt, SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 rocket

Private space company SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched successfully and delivered a satellite to orbit above Earth after a series of disappointing launch aborts.

The satellite, owned by SES, will provide telecommunications services to South Asia and the Asia Pacific region. This is the first time SpaceX has taken on a task of this kind and is its most difficult mission to date.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX aborted the first two mission launches last week after experiencing problems with the rocket’s oxygen systems. It released the following statements:

November 25:

We observed unexpected readings with the first stage liquid oxygen system so we decided to investigate.  The launch vehicle and satellite are in great shape and we are looking forward to the next launch opportunity on Thursday at 5:38 p.m. Eastern time.

November 28:

Thursday’s abort was caused by oxygen in the ground side igniter fluid (TEA-TEB). Rocket engines are healthy, but cleaning turbopump gas generators will take another day. Earliest possible launch attempt is Monday evening.

The Falcon 9 first launched in 2010. Since then, it became the first private craft to visit the International Space Station. It has more than 50 planned government and private missions to complete.

SpaceX, which is led by former PayPal head and Tesla founder Elon Musk, is currently developing its reusable Grasshopper rocket, which can land back on the ground after launch. On top of the Falcon 9, it currently offers the services of its Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon spacecraft.


This post was updated at 3:30 p.m. PT to reflect that the satellite was successfully delivered to orbit.