CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX launched a Bulgarian television satellite on a "flight-proven" rocket Friday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, kicking off a doubleheader weekend with the first of two planned launches, first on the East Coast and then on the West Coast.
This liftoff marked the second mission during which a recycled rocket booster was flown by SpaceX. A second success brings the company's founder Elon Musk closer to making re-used rocket launches the new normal in pursuit of his ultimate goal of starting a colony on Mars.
The Bulgaria-Sat-1 launch was delayed from Monday to Friday to allow time for SpaceX to replace a fairing valve. Then, "additional ground systems checks" pushed back the original 2:10 p.m. liftoff to 3:10 p.m., leaving a one-hour window open.
The Falcon 9 was delivering to space an 8,000-pound communications satellite for Bulgaria, providing television and data services to the region of Europe. The satellite was the second to ever fly on a flight-proven rocket.
The previously flown Falcon 9 booster No. 29 first launched and landed in January.
About eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage touched down on the drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean, making it the 12th booster to be recovered by SpaceX.