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SpaceX to launch satellite, no landing attempt planned

16 May 2017
SpaceX to launch satellite, no landing attempt planned

The launch is scheduled for 7:21 p.m. from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Engineers from Boeing's satellite control center in El Segundo, California, planned to finalize checks on the Inmarsat satellite Sunday night and verify the spacecraft's readiness for launch. Watch a replay of the Falcon 9 rocket taking off with the Inmarsat 5 F4 communications satellite, a heavyweight spacecraft created to link airliners, ships and others on-the-go via broadband. That's because the satellite SpaceX is heaving into space tonight is supposed to hit a high orbit over 22,000 miles above Earth's surface, and that will take a lot of fuel, meaning there won't likely be enough left to also make a landing upon return.

Liftoff from historic 39-A is set for 7:20 p.m.

Weather could not have been better Monday for a launch with a 90 percent chance for favorable conditions and clear sky.

Because a heavier payload is heading up, the rocket will not have the required fuel for a landing attempt.

Weighing in at almost 13,500 pounds (6,123.4 kgs) atop the rocket, the fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite will be the heaviest load lofted by a Falcon 9 yet, Floridatoday.com reported on Sunday.

So far, 10 Falcon 9 first stages have returned intact after launching, including one rocket that has now flown twice.

This is SpaceX's sixth launch attempt of 2017, and if the company pulls it off, it will be on track for a dozen or more launches this year alone-possibly as many as eighteen. But for unknown reasons at this time, the project was switched to Falcon 9.

SpaceX has gained acclaim for its success at recovering the expensive rockets for re-use in future missions.

The Falcon 9 deployed the satellite about 32 minutes after launch, right on schedule.

Arcing away to the east, the rocket climbed out of the thick lower atmosphere and two minutes and 45 seconds after launch, the first stage engines shut down, the stage fell away and the rocket's second stage, powered by a single Merlin engine, continued the climb to space.