Spaceflight Insider

Photo Gallery: SpaceX ramps up launch rate with Inmarsat-5 F4 mission

SpaceX launches Inmarsat-5 F4. Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie / SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX launches Inmarsat-5 F4 atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie / SpaceFlight Insider

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — On May 15, 2017, SpaceX launched an expendable Falcon 9 rocket with the Inmarsat-5 F4 communications satellite. SpaceFlight Insider was there to capture the event.

In an increasingly-rare expendable configuration, the rocket lifted off at 7:21 p.m. EDT (23:20 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). Some 32 minutes later, the Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite was placed into a geostationary transfer orbit. Because the spacecraft was over 13,000 pounds (5,900 kilograms), the company did not attempt to recover the first stage, as in previous missions.

This mission took place 14 days after the last launch from LC-39A, one of the quickest turnarounds for the pad that once sent Saturn V rockets and Space Shuttles into space. SpaceX hopes to increase its launch rate over the coming months.

The next launch at LC-39A will be the CRS-11 mission. It will attempt to launch at 5:52 p.m. EDT 21:52 GMT) June 1. Fourteen days later on June 15, another Falcon 9 will launch BulgariaSat 1, also from Florida.

On the West Coast, SpaceX will launch the next set of Iridium NEXT satellites at 4:02 p.m. EDT (20:02 GMT) June 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX needs to increase its launch rate if it is to catch up on its large backlog of launches manifested. So far in 2017, the company has launched six rockets. It expects up to 15 more before Dec. 31, 2017. The California-based company’s record in one calendar year, to date, has been eight – in 2016.

The following photos of the Inmarsat-5 F4 mission were captured by SpaceFlight Insider’s visual team.

INMARSAT-5-F4Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched the Inmarsat-5-F4 telecommunications satellite from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Monday, May 15, 2017. The mission got started at the very opening of a roughly 30 minute launch window at 7:21 p.m. EDT (23:21 GMT) and used a single-use 'Full Thrust' Falcon 9 rocket. The flight marked one of the rare occasions, during this period, in which NewSpace company opted to utilize one of the single-use versions of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The mission also marked an uptick in the rate of launch that SpaceX carried out, with the firm launching about a mission every two weeks.

 

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