Commercial space company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has launched a second satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit. Its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida and successfully delivered a TV and telecoms satellite for Thai-based communications provider Thaicom into position.
The Thaicom-6 satellite was delivered to an elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit ranging from 295 km to 90,000 km above the earth at an inclination of 22.5 degrees. The mission is Falcon 9’s second to a geosynchronous transfer orbit, following the launch of the Orbital Sciences GEOStar-2 commercial telecommunications satellite just over a month ago, and marks the start of regular launches planned for SpaceX in 2014.
"Today’s successful launch of the Thaicom-6 satellite marks the eighth successful flight in a row for Falcon 9," Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, said in a press statement. "SpaceX greatly appreciates Thaicom's support throughout this campaign and we look forward to a busy launch schedule in 2014."
The launch was also the third of three qualification flights needed to certify Falcon 9 for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, which will qualify SpaceX as an approved supplier to launch national security satellites for the US Air Force.
SpaceX has now completed over 40 launches, 60 percent of which have been for commercial customers. The company was founded in 2002 with the stated aim of, "enabling people to live on other planets."