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article imageSpaceX successfully launches satellite and lands Falcon 9 rocket

By Karen Graham     Aug 14, 2016 in Technology
Cape Canaveral - They say "practice makes perfect." SpaceX successfully completed its primary mission of delivering a telecommunications satellite into space early this morning and landed the Falcon 9 booster rocket on its drone ship.
At 1:26 a.m. ET, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral with its payload, the JCSAT-16 telecommunications satellite, placing it into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
The Falcon 9 booster rocket was brought back to the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship rather than being landed on Terra firma because the payload needed to be deployed at a much higher altitude to get it into GTO. So far, the only attempts made by SpaceX to land booster rockets on land have been when missions required a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), according to Tech Crunch.
JCSAT-16 satellite
Official JCSAT-16 mission patch.
Official JCSAT-16 mission patch.
SpaceX
JCSAT-16 is a commercial telecommunications satellite manufactured by Space Systems Loral for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, according to the SpaceX Mission Overview. They are a leading satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific region, providing high-quality communications using a fleet of 16 satellites. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully launched JCSAT-14 in May.
JCSAT-16 carries Ku-band and Ka-Band transponders and will function as an in-orbit backup satellite to existing services in the Ku and Ka bands. The company provides a wide range of services, including video distribution and data transfer communications in Asia, Russia, Oceania, the Middle East and North America.
The JCSAT-16 telecommunications satellite being readied for its trip into orbit.
The JCSAT-16 telecommunications satellite being readied for its trip into orbit.
SpaceX
Rocket recovery the SpaceX way
Including last night's booster recovery, SpaceX has made 11 attempts at recovering a booster rocket and succeeded in six. Two of the recoveries were on land and four recoveries were out at sea on a drone ship. Actually, sea-based landings are far more difficult than land-based recoveries.
The choice of a landing site is based on a mission's parameters. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a Tweet in January that the stability of a landing site doesn't have a lot to do with it. It is all about speed. All the details aside, Tech Crunch says the bottom line has to do with how fast the rocket has to go to in order to complete its mission.
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SpaceX
To explain further, an arc-like trajectory is needed to launch a payload into orbit, along with a sufficiently high enough velocity to complete an orbit around the Earth. Bringing the first stage booster rocket back to the launch pad required further lateral and deceleration maneuvers.
Whether or not a drone ship or dry land is used for a recovery also depends on the weight of the payload and the velocity of the rocket. There could not be enough fuel to get the rocket back to its launch site, and this is where having a drone ship close to the trajectory of the rocket is very helpful, and saves on fuel.
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SpaceX
So when is the next launch date? It comes up in just three short weeks, so we have something to look forward to. And don't forget the Raptor rocket engine testing, hopefully going on at the SpaceX facility in Texas. We should be hearing more about that bit of news soon.
More about Spacex, Falcon 9, telecommunications satellite, JCSAT16, drone ship
 
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