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SpaceX successfully lands rocket at sea for third time

SpaceX successfully lands rocket at sea for third time
The first stage of the company's Falcon rocket after it landed on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean just off the Florida coast on May 6, after launching a Japanese communications satellite. (SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a Thai communications satellite Friday afternoon, and its first-stage rocket booster landed on a floating target in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the company's third successful sea landing.

The rocket launched at 2:39 p.m. PDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but was postponed "out of an abundance of caution." Company Chief Executive Elon Musk said in a tweet at the time that there was a "tiny glitch" in the motion of the upper stage engine actuator that was "worth investigating."

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The Hawthorne company previously landed its first-stage booster at sea during its last two launches. It successfully landed a first-stage booster on land in December.

The 6,600-pound Thaicom 8 satellite was built by Orbital ATK and is intended to provide broadcast and data services to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The satellite deployed about 30 minutes after liftoff.

Because Thaicom 8 was delivered to a high orbit -- meaning the first-stage booster was subject to high velocities and reentry heating -- SpaceX had said a successful landing would be challenging.

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