SpaceX Blasts Biggest High Speed Communications Satellite to Orbit for Inmarsat

Posted May 16, 2017

SpaceX successfully launched a secretive spy satellite toward orbit on Monday morning, following a slight delay.

Falcon 9 rocket launches Inmarsat 5 from Kennedy Space Center. A SpaceX spokesperson said fueling the rocket closer to launch, about 35 minutes before liftoff, is a new procedure for the Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX has several heavier satellites on its manifest for the coming months, but the13, 417-pound Inmarsat 5 F4 satellite is the biggest test of the lifting capability of the Falcon 9 to date.

"Inmarsat-5 F4 (I-5 F4) will boost the power of our award-winning Global Xpress network, which has been delivering seamless, high-speed broadband connectivity across the world since December 2015", the London-based mobile satellite services provider said in a statement.

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Connelly, who grew up in the Chicago area but was most recently living in Arizona, was reportedly an experienced hiker. Madeline Connelly, 23, was found almost one week after she went missing on a hike in Montana.

A successful mission tonight by SpaceX would allow the company to demonstrate that it is making good progress toward its long-promised goal of flying the Falcon 9 frequently and working through a backlog of about 70 missions.

In any case, the Falcon 9's second stage fired twice to reach a so-called "super synchronous" elliptical orbit and the Inmarsat-5 satellite was safely released to fly on its own. However, since the company has not brought those into commercial flights yet, it made a decision to go with a regular Falcon. The launch of Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 from Pad 39A is scheduled for Monday, May 15. The company has not disclosed whether it will make another experimental attempt to recover the rocket's payload fairing. But for unknown reasons at this time, the project was switched to Falcon 9. The pad was heavily damaged in the September 1 pre-flight mishap but it is expected to be back on line shortly. The payload is too heavy.

Three Dragon cargo flights are planned this year, along with the Heavy's maiden launch.