SpaceX has launched the Koreasat-5A communications satellite for South Korea’s KT SAT on Monday, with a Falcon 9 lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to carry the satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Launch occurred on time at 15:34 local time (19:34 UTC), at the opening of a two-hour, 24-minute window, the SpaceX.com reported.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered Koreasat-5A to its designated orbit, marking the the company’s 16th successful mission of the year — twice the number of successful missions in 2016.
Landing of the first stage was also successful, albeit resulting in a “toasty” engine section. About 8.5 minutes after launch, the rocket's first stage came down for a pinpoint landing on the SpaceX drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. A fire smoldered at the booster's base shortly after the landing, but SpaceX quickly put it out.
Monday’s launch – the sixteenth of the year for SpaceX – deployed KT SAT’s Koreasat-5A spacecraft, which is also known as Mugungwha 5A. Replacing a faulty satellite in the South Korean operator’s fleet, Koreasat-5A will begin a fifteen-year mission with its journey to orbit aboard Falcon 9.
The three-and-a-half-tonne (7,700 lb) KoreaSat-5A satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space and is based on the SpaceBus-4000B2 platform. Equipped with thirty-six Ku-band transponders, the satellite will support broadcasting and internet services in Korea, Southeast Asia and the Middle East from geostationary orbit at a longitude of 113 degrees East. Koreasat-5A is expected to operate for at least fifteen years.