SpaceX, a private space flight company founded by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, successfully launched its first major commercial satellite into orbit Tuesday following two delays due to technical problems.
The launch was the company’s first using its newly upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, which blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 5:41 p.m. local time. Aboard the Falcon was a nearly 7,000 lbs. SES-8 satellite, which will orbit Earth at 22,369 miles above the ground while providing high-def telecommunications capabilities to customers across Asia, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX confirmed via Twitter that the Falcon 9 had successfully put the satellite into orbit at 6:22 p.m., less than an hour after leaving Earth:
Spacecraft separation confirmed! SES-8 is now in its targeted GEO transfer orbit.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 3, 2013
The SES-8 delivery marks SpaceX’s entry into the competitive commercial satellite launch market. While the company is working closely with NASA on supply missions to the International Space Station, more than 60% for the 50 launches remaining on SpaceX’s manifest are for commercial customers.