HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — SpaceX in Hawthorne launched an Asian communications satellite into orbit Friday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Again, the private space exploration firm successfully recovered the first stage of the launch rocket by landing it on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
After a series of failed attempts, today’s mission marked the third straight time SpaceX succeeded in recovering one of its Falcon 9 rockets on the barge, which is whimsically named “Of Course I Still Love You.”
The rocket launched from Cape Canaveral around 2:40 p.m., and the first stage separated from the rest of the vehicle less than three minutes later. Mission operators then successfully maneuvered the first stage to the barge, on which the rocket landed upright.
Prior to the launch, mission controllers indicated that a successful recovery would be “challenging” because of the high velocity and re-entry heating due to the flight trajectory.
Recovering the rockets is seen as a major cost-savings for space missions, and using the barge saves on fuel due to the shorter distance the rocket needs to travel, as opposed to landing it back on land.
The mission carried a THAICOM 8 satellite, which will provide communications coverage for South and Southeast Asia.
The satellite was successfully deployed into orbit about 30 minutes after the rocket’s launch.
The company’s first successful rocket landing was made April 8.