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SpaceX to launch Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX to launch Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center

In yet another spectacular rocket launch-and-return, Hawthorne-based SpaceX on Monday delivered a South Korean commercial communications satellite to orbit.

The latest mission got underway at 3:34 p.m. EDT (GMT-4) when the Falcon 9's nine Merlin 1D engines ignited and spun up to full throttle.

The upcoming mission is expected to take roughly 30 minutes from liftoff to the satellite's deployment in an initial orbit reaching as high as 37,000 miles. The rocket's first stage landed safely on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX's next flight is scheduled for November 15 with a mysterious payload named Zuma for the US government. The company has also managed to re-fly previously launched and landed boosters, proving out its reusability even more. Two NASA contracts awarded last week - Sentinel-6A for a SpaceX Falcon 9 mission and Landsat-9 for a ULA Atlas 5 mission - were worth $97 million and $153.8 million respectively.

Today's launch was the 16th of the year for SpaceX, one more than the company pulled off in 2015 and 2016 combined.

So far this year, the company has launched dozens of modernized communications satellites to cover North America and the Caribbean, Taiwan, Japan, Bulgaria and beyond.

The Falcon 9 will attempt to boost the roughly 8,000-pound Koreasat-5A on its way to an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator. "As a replacement for Koreasat-5, Koreasat-5A will expand on its coverage across Asia and the Middle East". In August KT Sat forged a distribution agreement with Tokyo-based Hun's Corp.to bring the operator's maritime VSAT product, MVSAT, to the Japanese market. Koreasat-5A provides KT SAT with 12 Ku-band transponders of 36MHz, and 24 Ku-band transponders of 54MHz. The satellite supports television broadcasts, internet access and network backhaul.

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