Elon Musk's SpaceX completed another successful launch this weekend, delivering the 7,000 kg Telstar 19 Vantage satellite from Cape Canaveral to offer connectivity across the Americas.
It is now SpaceX's go-to rocket, with another rapid-fire launch on tap Wednesday with a different Falcon 9 to boost 10 Iridium NEXT satellite telephone relay stations into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Telstar-19 Vantage is the first of two SSL-built satellites SpaceX is launching for Canadian fleet operator Telesat this year.
What's important about the newly configured Block 5 version is that it designed for multiple re-uses, probably up to around 10 launches per rocket, and without major refurbishment. But first, the California-based launch company is due to execute two other missions.
The extra power available because of Block 9 full thrust version of the rocket was hugely useful in lifting Telstar-19 with its 7076 kgs of launch weight.
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This morning's liftoff was the first for this particular first stage, however.
The first stage, meanwhile, began its landing sequence, firing three of its engines to slow down before atmospheric entry as it followed an arcing, ballistic trajectory toward the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" stationed several hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral. Eastern, and deployed Telstar 19 Vantage into a geostationary transfer orbit nearly 33 minutes later.
Telesat's next satellite, the Telstar-18/Apstar-5C satellite shared with APT Satellite of Hong Kong, is scheduled for a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral no earlier than August.
Along with operating geostationary satellites, Telesat is preparing a constellation of 117 low-Earth-orbit spacecraft for high-speed broadband in 2022. It's carrying a communications satellite that will provide data services in North and South America.
The satellite has a 15-year design life.