SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The only break from SpaceX's recent routine was the fact that the launch came during daylight hours, at 3:46 p.m. ET (12:46 p.m. PT).
If everything goes according to plan, the Falcon 9 will deliver Es'hail-2 to a geostationary transfer orbit about 32 minutes after launch. Es'hail-1, Qatar's earlier satellite, was deployed in August 2013 in partnership with Eutelsat, a French telecommunications operator. The booster touched down on the robotic ship about 8.5 minutes after liftoff. The device is created to transmit signals of television channels, as well as to provide "secure communications" for the needs of businesses and authorities in the middle East and North Africa. The booster landed safely on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, marking the 31st time SpaceX has successfully recovered their booster after an orbital launch. The Es'hail 2 will be situated 26 degrees east longitude over the equator.
SpaceX has a contract to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of what's known as the Commercial Crew program with NASA, but the timeline for the first flights has slipped repeatedly. Es'hail 2 features high-speed Ku- and Ka-band communications services. And 9 in the title refers to the number of engines in the rocket.
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SpaceX is enjoying a spectacular run of success both in terms of its launch business and recovery of its valuable first stages.
Plummeting back to Earth tail first, the rocket's four landing legs unfolded moments before a single engine re-started to slow the vehicle for landing. The Falcon 9 is SpaceX's workhorse rocket - this is the company's 18th mission in 2018, tying its total from past year.
SpaceX plans to launch a communications satellite and land a rocket today (Nov. 15), and you can catch all the action live.