By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
SpaceX, the private space company founded by master inventor Elon Musk, will be launching one of its most challenging missions yet. What could be so hard for the people who’ve been developing a jumping Grasshopper rocket? Getting a satellite into its proper orbit! The Falcon 9, a rocket-powered spaceflight launch vehicle created by SpaceX, will be taking the communications satellite into orbit 22,000 miles above the equator.
While the Falcon 9 has already taken several spacecraft to the International Space Station about 250 miles up, it’s never taken a communications satellite into orbit like this.
A company called SES, which has 54 satellites in orbit, is taking a chance on the Falcon 9. If SpaceX can succeed, it would open up a cheaper alternative for companies trying to get their technology into space. “Let me put this very clearly and maybe not too dramatically: The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer,” said Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer for SES. “It’s going to really shake the industry to its roots.”
Elon Musk is very grateful for the opportunity, explaining, “This launch is obviously very important to the future of SpaceX. We’re very appreciative that SES would place a bet on SpaceX here.” It won’t be easy, however, even for the upgraded Falcon 9.
Standing at 224 feet tall, it fires off Merlin engines that can whip out 1.3 million pounds of thrust to achieve liftoff. Next Monday, Musk is confident it will at least make a strong attempt at getting the 7,000-pound SES-8 satellite into proper orbit. “There’s no stone that hasn’t been turned over at least twice to maximize the possibility of success,” he said. “The rest will be up to fate.”
Images courtesy of SpaceX.