SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon 9 Rocket

HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — Hawthorne-based SpaceX Friday successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral into orbit after three failed attempts. Scientists are expected to try again to recover the rocket on a floating barge.

The mission was scrubbed twice last week, then again earlier this week, because of a number of issues, including trouble with the liquid oxygen aboard the rocket, high winds and a boat that floated into restricted waters off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The rocket is carrying a communications satellite known as SES-9, which was deployed 31 minutes after liftoff.

Once the satellite is deployed, the company will make another effort to guide the Falcon 9 rocket back to a barge, known comically as “Of Course I Still Love You.” Executives of SpaceX, which is based in Hawthorne, don’t expect a successful landing, however.

“Given this mission’s unique GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit) profile, a successful landing is not expected,” according to the company, which has failed at least three times previously to successfully land the rocket on a barge.

SpaceX made history in December when it managed to return a rocket to Earth and set it down upright on land. That Dec. 21 launch, also from Cape Canaveral, delivered 11 ORBCOMM communications satellites into orbit. After delivering the vehicle carrying the satellites into orbit, the rocket was maneuvered back to Earth, where it successfully landed on a pad back at Cape Canaveral.

The history-making landing was a major cost-saving step forward for space operations, proving that highly expensive rockets can be recovered and reused instead of merely being lost in the ocean.

According to SpaceX, the SES-9 satellite will provide broadcast and communications capabilities across parts of Asia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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