SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral to put a Turkish communications satellite into space this week. The launch was the first in 2021 and the first of more than 40 Falcon missile missions scheduled for 2021. All of these missions will be launched from Florida and California.
Heavy rocket launches scheduled for 2021 would break SpaceX’s record of 26 Falcon 9 flights in 2020. Of course, that assumes. SpaceX All missiles can be launched this year. Thursday’s mission puts a satellite in orbit owned by Turkey and built by Airbus. It is known as the Turksat 5 communications satellite.
While the launch itself went unimpeded, there was a delay of more than 45 minutes as mission observers assessed the readiness of a low-range tracking station in Gabon. SpaceX eventually continued the mission without the tracking antenna. Falcon 9 ignited its engines and took off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 9:15 PM EST on Thursday.
The rocket’s path took it east from Cape Canaveral, with Falcon 9’s first stage falling about 2.5 minutes into flight. The first stage landed towards the unmanned SpaceX ship 400 miles east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster was able to perform a perfect vertical landing, and two more vessels were lowered to retrieve the Falcon 9’s two-piece payload shroud.
Turkish ground teams confirmed that they had received the first radio signals from the satellite after the launch. Controllers have begun validation and post-launch checks before the satellite goes live. The satellite weighs about 7,500 pounds and is powered by solar panels. It is in geostationary orbit at an altitude of about 22,000 miles above the equator.