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SpaceX launches rocket, deploys communications satellite

SpaceX launched a commercial communications satellite overnight after strong winds delayed a previous attempt.

Shortly after 2 a.m. EDT Thursday, SpaceX tweeted that the main engine cutoff and stage separation had been confirmed. The second stage engine burn was underway.

About 2:35 a.m. EDT, SpaceX tweeted that it had confirmed successful deployment of the EchoStar 23 satellite to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The launch took place at 2 a.m. EDT from Pad 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

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SpaceX said Tuesday that the weather for the launch attempt was 90% favorable. This was the Hawthorne company’s third launch of the year.

Unlike past launches, SpaceX did not try to land its first-stage booster. A combination of the satellite’s heavy weight and the high orbit it needs to reach won’t leave enough fuel in the booster’s tanks to bring it back. Instead, the first stage will burn up in the atmosphere after separating from the second stage.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk has said future heavy payloads will fly on either the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is set to make its first flight this summer, or an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 rocket.

The upgraded Falcon 9 is expected to fly at the end of the year.

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samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga


UPDATES:

11:45 a.m.: Updated with satellite deployment.

11:10 p.m.: Updated with liftoff.

9:50 p.m.: Updated to push the launch time from 1:35 a.m. EDT to 2 a.m. EDT.

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This article was first published at 10:25 a.m.


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