SpaceX to launch and land Falcon 9 rocket in Atlantic Ocean


Following stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage will attempt a landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

To that end, the company is also gearing up to fly its first test of the long-awaited Falcon Heavy rocket - a large launcher created to bring bigger payloads to orbit and beyond in the near future.

Dropping tail first and using titanium "grid fins" at the top of the booster to maintain the proper orientation, the computer restarted a single engine as the rocket neared the drone ship, four landing legs deployed and the vehicle settled to touchdown on the landing craft's deck.

Koreasat 5A's on-board engine will conduct multiple burns to circularize its orbit around 22,300 miles (35,800 kilometers) over the equator a few weeks after launch.

It was the third successful launch in the McLean, Virginia-based company's campaign to replace its entire globe-circling fleet with a total of 75 next-generation communications satellites.

SpaceX reported an on-target deployment of Koreasat 5A just shy of the mission's 36-minute point, and an on-board camera showed the satellite receding into the blackness of space as it soared several hundred miles over Africa.

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SpaceX has racked up another rocket launch, its 16th this year.

The rocket carried KT Sat's Koreasat 5A communications satellite into orbit.

Koreasat 5 was crippled by a failure of a solar array drive mechanism, prompting KTsat to order a replacement sooner than expected.

SpaceX's landing record now stands at 19 successes in 24 attempts, 12 on droneships and 7 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The satellite will provide TV and other communications services to people in South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. Should weather or some kind of technical issue get in the way, SpaceX will try to launch again tomorrow at the same time.

SpaceX's coverage of the launch will likely start about 15 minutes before launch time, so be sure to check back then.