SpaceX has celebrated the 50th flight of its Falcon 9 rocket following the successful launch of a satellite on Monday evening.
The launch that achieved the rocket’s half-century took place from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
It included the Falcon 9’s largest ever payload, the Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite, which is “almost the size of a city bus”.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said it was the largest geostationary satellite SpaceX had ever carried.
Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth at the same speed that it rotates on its axis, effectively remaining in a stationary position in the sky.
Communications satellites are often placed into geostationary orbits – approximately 37.5km from the surface of the Earth – and remain at a fixed position which satellite antennas can point at.
Mr Musk tweeted afterwards: “Very proud of the SpaceX team!”
“Can’t believe it’s been fifty Falcon 9 launches already. Just ten years ago, we couldn’t even reach orbit with little Falcon 1.”
The Falcon 9’s first ever flight was in 2010, and as recently as the 47th flight in January 2018 the rocket’s efforts were marred when the secret military satellite it was carrying was destroyed when it failed to separate from the rocket.