SpaceX had a royal audience as it launched a satellite for Luxembourg

Ismael LynchFeb 02, 2018

The company previously announced that it wouldn't attempt to recover the first stage of the reusable SpaceX rocket once it fell back to Earth.

One of the company's two-stage Falcon 9 rockets successfully launched the GovSat-1 communications satellite to orbit today (Jan. 31) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The so-called GovSat-1 satellite will provide, among other things, greater cyber protection for Luxembourg's European Union partners and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, including the United States, Luxembourg Defense Minister Etienne Schneider told a news conference on Tuesday. GovSat-1 is equipped with six high-powered fully steerable spot beams, a high-power X-band Global beam, and features sixty-eight transponder equivalent units in total. The secure and robust connectivity on GovSat-1 will enable critical communications in theatres of operations, interconnect key institutional or defense sites, and support applications such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and communications on the move, among others.

The satellite is created to expand NATO's surveillance reach and its capability to deter cyber attacks on alliance members.

As stated above, GovSat-1's Falcon 9 booster (1032) was apparently being used to test an exceptionally aggressive landing burn in lieu of a drone ship beneath it.

GovSat-1 also will serve civilian telecommunications security functions.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said, "Luxembourg has always been a pioneer in the space industry and has a long tradition in innovative partnerships with private aerospace companies". Sharing his views about the success of the GovSat mission, CEO of GovSat, Patrick Biewer said, "The launch of the GovSat 1 satellite is certainly the most exciting moment in our young company's history, the company being founded back in 2015".

The Falcon Heavy megarocket packs three times the thrust of the Falcon 9. But SpaceX scrubbed the launch stating that it wants to replace the sensor of the Falcon 9 second stage.

Thirty-four minutes after liftoff, the satellite was successfully released into a highly elliptical "parking" orbit, according to SpaceX.

Reusable rockets would cut costs and waste in the space industry, which now loses millions of dollars in jettisoned machinery after each launch.

This is the sixth time SpaceX have reused one of its boosters. The launch of the Heavy was planned for February 6 as of Wednesday and the rocket was on the launch pad in preparation for the big day.

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