News / Science & Technology

SpaceX Falcon Rocket Lifts Off With Thaicom Digital TV Satellite

Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the THAICOM 6 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, Jan. 6, 2014. (SpaceX photo)A
Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the THAICOM 6 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, Jan. 6, 2014. (SpaceX photo)A
Reuters
A Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday to put a commercial communications spacecraft into orbit for Thai satellite operator Thaicom.
 
The 224-foot (68-meter) tall rocket burst off its seaside launch pad at 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT), soaring through overcast skies as it headed toward the satellite's drop-off point more than 55,000 miles (88,500 km) above Earth or about one-quarter of the way to the moon.
 
From that position, the 6,649-pound (3,016 kg) Thaicom 6 satellite is designed to lower itself to about 22,300 miles (35,888 km) above Earth and shift the angle of its orbit so that it can be permanently stationed to beam high-definition and digital television services to customers in Thailand and surrounding areas.
 
The satellite, built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp , also is equipped to provide other communications services for customers in Southeast Asia and Africa, including Madagascar, Thaicom's website shows.
 
Including launch services and insurance, the Thaicom 6 satellite cost about $160 million, according to Thaicom. So far, about two-thirds of the satellite's capacity has been sold, according to Thaicom.
 
Monday's launch was the second in just over a month for Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX.
 
In December, the California-based firm, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also serves as chief executive of Tesla Motors car company, launched its first commercial communications satellite, staking a claim in a global satellite launch industry worth about $6.5 billion a year, a study by the Satellite Industry Association trade group shows.
 
So far, privately owned SpaceX has sold about 50 commercial launches worth about $40 billion. About 25 percent of the flights are for NASA, which hired SpaceX, along with Orbital Sciences, to fly cargo to the International Space Station, a $100 billion research complex that flies about 250 miles (about 400 km) above Earth.
 
SpaceX's next flight, slated for late February, will be the third of 12 station resupply missions under its $1.6 billion NASA contract.
 
Orbital Sciences, which holds a separate $1.9 billion NASA contract, is preparing to launch the first of its eight station cargo runs on Wednesday. The company's Antares rockets fly from a commercial spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia.
 
Before Monday's launch, Falcon 9 rockets had flown seven times, all successfully, though on its first cargo flight to the station, in October 2012, one of the rocket's nine first-stage engines shut down prematurely.
 
Other motors compensated, and the rocket was able to deliver its Dragon cargo ship to the intended orbit without a problem.
 
SpaceX is working on three parallel programs to expand its business and cut costs, including reusing its first-stage boosters. However, a proposed demonstration to restart the engine so it could cushion the splashdown into the ocean was not attempted on the Thaicom 6 mission, said SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin.
 
Heavy-lift Falcon Mission
 
In addition, the company is working on a 27-engine, heavy-lift Falcon rocket as well as a version of its Dragon cargo capsule that can carry astronauts and other passengers to the space station.
 
A Falcon Heavy demonstration mission from SpaceX's second launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is slated for 2014, the company's website shows.
 
A successful mission on Monday also could clear SpaceX to enter a lucrative competition to launch U.S. military reconnaissance and communications satellites, a service now exclusively provided by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid