SpaceX One Launch Away From "Most Launches In A Year" Record

Es'hail-2 SpaceX Falcon 9

The launch of Es'hail-2 on a Falcon 9 rocket tied SpaceX's launch record set last year of 18 launches in one year. Credit SpaceX webcast

Qatar's Es'hail-2 satellite will connect amateur radio users from Brazil to Thailand and will assist with broadcast and broadband connectivity to Qatar and neighboring countries, according to a Kennedy Space Center website. This is the first launch during daylight hours since this past spring.

SpaceX has scheduled a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station in early December, and the US Air Force's first third-generation Global Positioning System navigation satellite is set to launch after that. It will be refurbished and launched for a third time as part of SpaceX's plan to cut down launch costs.

SpaceX has come a long way since it started in 2002.

This satellite will be used to relay various data services and commercial video across the Middle East and assist the Qatar military, amplifying their connectivity.

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Today will mark that rocket's second such maneuver: The Falcon 9 will attempt to make another landing on the droneship a few hundred miles off Florida's Atlantic coast after pushing Es'hail-2 into geostationary transfer orbit. During the booster's final moments of its return, the engined reignited to, allowing the four legs of the booster to be deployed at the base of the rocket.

An artist's impression of the Es'hail 2 communications satellite in orbit. The company already has recovered rocket boosters several times, both on land and on drone ships at sea. The SpaceX is now waiting for the United Launch Alliance's (ULA) subsequent Delta IV Heavy rocket with the National Reconnaissance (NRO) satellite connected to the northeast side of SpaceX's LZ-4 which provides the rest of the gaps to fill in.

Overall, Thursday's launching marked SpaceX's 18th flight so far this year - 22 are planned - and the company's 63rd Falcon 9 launch, the 64th counting the February debut of the three-core Falcon Heavy.

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