SpaceX Just Launched its 16th Rocket of the Year

Another view of launch as the Falcon 9 climbed away from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.               Steven Young  Spaceflight Now

Another view of launch as the Falcon 9 climbed away from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Steven Young Spaceflight Now

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Telstar 18 VANTAGE from Cape Canaveral early Monday morning at 12:45 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Telstar 18V satellite was deployed into orbit above Earth 32 minutes after the launch. Its position over the 138th meridian east will allow it to provide coverage across Asia and Hawaii, "enabling direct connectivity between any point in Asia and the Americas". It will also provide Ku-band HTS spots over Indonesia and Malaysia as well as five additional Ku-band beams.

The launch was the 16th of the year for SpaceX, but also the first for the company in more than a month, since the August 7 launch of the Merah Putih satellite for Telkom Indonesia.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Telstar 18V communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on September 10, 2018.

However, rain and heavy clouds forced the company to push back the launch three times, until the Falcon 9 rocket was finally cleared for take-off after a 77-minute delay.

"Falcon 9 and Telstar 18 VANTAGE are vertical on Pad 40 in Florida". The massive spacecraft weighs 15,564 pounds (7,060 kilograms), making it one of the heaviest commercial communications satellites ever launched.

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Telesat is a leading global satellite operator, providing reliable and secure satellite-delivered communications solutions worldwide to broadcast, telecom, corporate and government customers.

Built by the California-based aerospace company SSL, the new satellite "will replace and expand on the capabilities of Telesat's Telstar 18 satellite", which first launched in 2004, SpaceX officials said in a statement. Privately held, Telesat's principal shareholders are Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc.

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