NEW YORK — SpaceX launched a satellite toward distant orbit on Friday after multiple delays.
The private space exploration company, headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:35 pm CT.
SpaceX has set five different launch dates, the first of which was on February 25 — and it has halted six countdowns due to problems with the rocket fuel, weather, and even interference from a nearby boat.
But on Friday, SpaceX employees and onlookers cheered as the Falcon 9 rocket hurtled toward the sky without issue.
The mission was to deliver a massive satellite that could provide broadband internet to remote areas of the Asia-Pacific into geosynchronous orbit.
That’s no small feat. More than 22,000 miles into space, geosynchronous orbit is 100 times further than where the International Space Station orbits.
All was headed smoothly with that effort.
However, SpaceX also attempted another rocket landing. That’s deemed a secondary goal, but SpaceX — as well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin — have been determined to master rocket landings.
Being able to safely land — and reuse — the rocket that provides the initial blast for a spacecraft is key to making space travel cheaper and more accessible for the private sector.
Both Musk and Bezos have succeeded in landing a rocket, but SpaceX has yet to land one a platform out at sea.
The company did not successfully land on Friday night, but it had not expected to.
Because the mission was to such a distant orbit, most of the rocket fuel had to be used for propulsion instead of guiding the rocket back toward Earth.