MIAMI – American private company SpaceX successfully launched on Monday a reusable Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a communications satellite that will expand South Korea’s coverage across Asia and the Middle East.
After the satellite was placed into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), the reusable part of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landed on a drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You” in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Approximately 6 minutes and 30 seconds after liftoff, the rocket restarted its engines and set off for the return, and about 2 minutes later the rocket landed on the ship.
Koreasat-5A, a commercial communications satellite, is operated by South Korea’s KT SAT, the only satellite service provider in that country, and seeks to replace the Koreasat-5, SpaceX said in a statement.
Unlike other Koreasat satellites, the 5A will provide maritime coverage across the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South China Sea and East China Sea.
In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year contract with NASA to use the iconic 39A launch pad, which has a history dating back to the early 1960s, when it hosted the famous Apollo mission program.
Since then, the company has made improvements to modernize the launch pad and its operating systems, and has previously launched its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets from there.