SpaceX rocket launches Inmarsat satellite

SpaceX launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rises from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending an Inmarsat satellite into space. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket today launched the Inmarsat-5 F4 telecommunications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit ranging beyond 22,000 miles in height – so high that there was no chance to bring the first-stage booster back for a landing.

The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at the beginning of the launch window, at 7:21 p.m. ET (4:21 p.m. PT).

Over the past year, SpaceX has made Falcon 9 booster landings seem almost routine. But missions aimed at putting satellites in geostationary orbits typically require so much oomph that there’s not enough fuel for a controlled descent.

Instead, the first stage tumbled back down to crash harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX didn’t even bother to install landing legs on the rocket.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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