Published: Sat, November 17, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Watch the Falcon 9 rocket blast off for the Qatari satellite mission

Watch the Falcon 9 rocket blast off for the Qatari satellite mission

When a customer like Qatar orders a Falcon 9 rocket launch from SpaceX, they now pay about $62 million, according to the company's recent estimates. The on-time launch was the first daytime launch from the Cape in 6 months.

Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX previously used this Block 5 booster for the July launch of Telesat's Telstar 19 Vantage satellite.

What is Falcon 9? Two firings were planned to put the Es'hail 2 communications satellite into the required elliptical "transfer" orbit 32 minutes after liftoff.

The Es'hail-2 spacecraft was built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and will be operated by Qatar-based company Es'hailSat. The new satellite will provide telecommunication services to the Middle East and North Africa.

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Es'hail-2 also carries two amateur-radio transponders that will facilitate conventional analog ham radio as well as experimental digital communications, including amateur television.

A proud staple of the SpaceX team as the satellite moved towards its intended destination, the 15-story booster stage made its way back down to earth with its aerodynamic fins as three of the rocket engines ignited to slow down the stage's re-entry. The Es'hail 2 will be situated 26 degrees east longitude over the equator.

SpaceX is set to launch its 18th mission this year at 3:46 p.m. today from Kennedy Space Center's launchpad 39A, the iconic site used by NASA's historic Apollo missions that sent humans to the moon.

Getting Es'hail-2 to its proper place in geostationary orbit requires a series of orbital maneuvers, which started a little more than a half-hour after launch with a second-stage engine burn and satellite deployment.

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