CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- SpaceX successfully launched a satellite into orbit and landed its first stage Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the second time early Friday morning.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:21 a.m. Eastern Standard Time carrying a JCSAT-14 communications satellite.
Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 landed onto the deck of the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship located several hundred miles off the east coast of Florida.
SpaceX was not giving favorable odds for a successful landing for this launch because the Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit required the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than the previous drone ship landing. That meant that Falcon 9's first stage rocket came down significantly faster with less fuel to slow its descent than prior landing attempts.
SpaceX also confirmed that the second stage delivered the JCSAT-14 satellite into its proper Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit. The satellite will provide commercial communications in the Asia-Pacific region.
Photo and video credit: SpaceX