SpaceX launches Spanish satellite on Falcon 9’s 50th launch

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An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Brown

One month after launching into space the most powerful present-day rocket, the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX has reached another milestone following the launch of a Spanish communications satellite which marked the company’s 50th launch on the Falcon 9 rocket.

The rocket made its liftoff from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday at around 12:33 a.m. to deliver the Spanish satellite, Hispasat, into its orbit around the Earth.

However, unlike the usual practice when launching the Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX will not attempt to land the rocket’s first stage due to unfavorable conditions in the recovery area off the coast of Florida.

Normally, The Falcon 9’s first stage are landed back on the surface as part of SpaceX’s efforts to utilize reusable launch systems that dramatically lower the costs of space launches.

For rockets carrying heavy payloads, the first stage is usually landed onto a robotic platform that is located out in the sea, as the rocket will not have enough fuel to make it back to land after sending a substantial payload into space.

At six metric tons, the Hispasat is the largest geostationary satellite that SpaceX has ever launched into space. The communications satellite will settle into an orbit about 22,300 miles above the Earth.

SpaceX started utilizing the Falcon 9 rocket in June 2010. It has taken the company just seven years and nine months to complete 50 launches on the rocket, demonstrating the accelerated rate at which the company can perform space launches. In comparison, the similar-capacity United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket took nine years and seven months before it was able to reach the 50-launch milestone.

In its nearly eight years of operation, the Falcon 9 had two launch failures. The first one occurred in 2015 when a rocket broke apart during the launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), while the other one happed in 2016 when a rocket exploded on the Launchpad during a routine preflight test.