NASA no longer has a monopoly on US geosynchronous orbit launchesMore pictures follow. From Space.com:
The private spaceflight company SpaceX launched a critical commercial satellite mission from Florida Tuesday after two delays due to technical glitches.
An upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the huge SES-8 communications satellite into orbit from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:41 p.m. EST (2241 GMT). The mission marks SpaceX’s first Florida launch of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, its first major communications satellite launch and its first flight to a high geostationary transfer orbit needed for commercial satellites.
Tuesday’s launch was SpaceX’s third attempt to launch the SES-8 spacecraft for satellite communications provider SES World Skies. SpaceX aborted the two earlier launch attempts last week, first on Nov. 25 and again on Nov. 28, due to technical glitches. [Mission Photos: SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launching Landmark Satellite Flight]
Sending the 6,918-lb. SES-8 satellite into its intended orbit, which ranges from 183 miles above Earth at its nearest point and 49,709 miles at its highest point, marks the company’s entry into the commercial satellite market. The SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku-and Ka-band spacecraft built to provide high-definition telecommunications services to customers across the South Asia and Pacific region.
“The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer,” SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell told reporters in Nov. 24 teleconference before SpaceX’s first launch attempt. “It’s going to really shake the industry to its roots.”