A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket goes vertical on NASA's Launchpad 39A hours before its Es'hail-2 mission on November 15 2018. Falcon 9 first launched on 4 June 2010, and since that time it underwent two substantial changes.
Speaking at a space conference about a refurbished SpaceX rocket, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell recently said that "it was substantially less than half" the cost of building a new rocket booster. Two firings were planned to put the Es'hail 2 communications satellite into the required elliptical "transfer" orbit 32 minutes after liftoff.
Because rockets can be reused, SpaceX launches are cheaper.
Built by Mitsubishi Electric Company, based on their DS 2000 satellite bus, Es'hail-2 has a proven, modular platform with high power capability and flexibility for a broad range of applications.
In addition to providing more bandwidth for Qatar, the satellite also carries transponders for use by amateur, or ham, radio operators.
Smoothly accelerating as the rocket gulped propellant and lost weight, the Falcon 9 arced away to the east over the Atlantic Ocean, rapidly gaining altitude and slowly fading from view, leaving a crackling roar in its wake. The rocket experienced some serious problems along the way, but the company's number of successful launches has nearly made them boring over the past few years.
Another major feat for Elon Musk and his team, the successful booster landing opens the door for it to be used again for another mission, making it the 31st time the company has recovered a booster after a launch. The Es'hail 2 will be situated 26 degrees east longitude over the equator.
The Falcon 9 booster used for the mission landed on SpaceX's drone ship Of Course I Still Love You less than nine minutes after liftoff, paving the way for a third launch with the same booster.