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SpaceX launch succeeds, but landing is hard

Image: Falcon 9 launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket rises from its pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Credit: SpaceX)

After coping with a wayward boat, unfavorable winds and propellant problems, SpaceX launched the SES-9 telecommunication satellite on its Falcon 9 rocket today, then tried unsuccessfully to land the rocket’s first stage on an oceangoing platform.

The Falcon 9 soared into the skies above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida just after sunset at 6:35 p.m. ET (3:35 p.m. PT) after a smooth countdown.

The satellite was sent on its way to geosynchronous transfer orbit, the first step toward putting SES-9 into position for Luxembourg-based SES to deliver satellite broadcast services to millions of customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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