NEW YORK — After five attempts were halted, SpaceX launched a satellite toward distant orbit Friday evening.
The private space exploration company, headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:35 p.m. ET.
Since its first launch attempt on February 25, SpaceX has faced delays due to problems with the rocket fuel, weather and interference from a nearby boat.
But on Friday, SpaceX employees and onlookers cheered as the Falcon 9 rocket hurtled toward the sky without issue.
The mission is to deliver a massive satellite that could provide broadband internet to remote areas of the Asia-Pacific into geosynchronous orbit.
That’s no small feat. More than 22,000 miles into space, geosynchronous orbit is 100 times further than where the International Space Station orbits.
All was headed smoothly with that effort.
However, SpaceX also attempted another rocket landing. That’s deemed a secondary goal, but SpaceX — as well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin — have been determined to master rocket landings.
Being able to safely land — and reuse — the rocket that provides the initial blast for a spacecraft is key to making space travel cheaper and more accessible for the private sector.
Both Musk and Bezos have succeeded in landing a rocket, but SpaceX has yet to land one a platform out at sea.
The company did not immediately reveal whether or not that feat was achieved on Friday night, but a successful landing was not expected.
Because the mission was to such a distant orbit, most of the rocket fuel had to be used for propulsion instead of guiding the rocket back toward Earth.