The Dragon cargo spacecraft, which was flown on SpaceX's sixth commercial resupply mission to station for NASA, will launch the CRS-13 resupply mission flight on a Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket booster will attempt to land on one of SpaceX's autonomous drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
But a successful landing after launch may be hard because the Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit requires the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than other recovered missions. The Falcon 9 second stage, meanwhile, continued powering Koreasat-5A to a distant geostationary transfer orbit, eventually deploying the satellite 35.5 minutes after liftoff.
Koreasat-5A launch attempt.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, Koreasat-5A is owned by Seoul-based KT SAT.
The satellite will also aid maritime communications from East Africa to East Asia.
Monday's launching marked SpaceX's third flight in three weeks following launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellite telephone relay stations October 8 and the SES-11/Echostar 105 comsat three days later.
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Once widely viewed as a daunting concept, the vertical, propulsive booster landings have appeared increasingly routine in recent months, and are critical for SpaceX's strategy to reuse rocket hardware and cut costs.
To date, SpaceX has returned and landed a Falcon 9's first stage 19 times on land and at sea.
SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida today.
Generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the first stage put on a dramatic afternoon show as it streaked through a cloudless blue sky, arcing away to the east as it accelerated out of the dense lower atmosphere.
Twelve of those landings happened in 2017 alone; the company let three other rockets splash down in the ocean this year during missions where, by design, there was not enough leftover fuel for the propulsive landing that settles the rocket down on the platform.
But SpaceX and its customers consider the rocket landings secondary to each mission's main objective: the delivery of satellites to their targeted orbits. The U.S. Air Force in 2007 leased SLC-40 to SpaceX.