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SpaceX Launches Thaicom 6, Completes Second GTO Delivery Using Falcon 9 Rocket

By Caleb Henry | January 7, 2014
      SpaceX Falcom 9 GTO

      SpaceX Launch if the Thaicom 6 satellite. Photo: SpaceX

      [Via Satellite 1-7-2014] SpaceX successfully launched the Thaicom 6 satellite for Asian satellite operator Thaicom. A Falcon 9 rocket was used to deliver the satellite to its targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) at 22.5 degrees inclination.

      The launch occurred from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at 5:06 p.m. Eastern Time. Approximately 184 seconds into flight, the Falcon 9’s second-stage Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 35 second burn that delivered the Thaicom 6 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the Thaicom 6 satellite to its final GTO.

      The Thaicom 6 mission marks SpaceX’s second flight to a geosynchronous transfer orbit using the Falcon 9 rocket. The company has close to 50 launches on manifest, of which over 60 percent are for commercial customers.

      This launch also marks the third of three qualification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Once the rocket is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete to launch national security satellites for the United States Air Force.