California-based space company SpaceX, launched a commercial communications satellite for South Korea – the KoreaSat 5A – and then landed the rocket on a floating drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. A SpaceX two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite was flagged-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The satellite was deployed to a geostationary transfer orbit about 36 minutes after liftoff. KoreaSat 5A, operated by KT SAT, South Korea’s sole satellite service provider is a replacement for Koreasat-5, which was launched in 2006. It will provide direct-to-home broadcasting and other communications services in South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Unlike other satellites in the Koreasat fleet, Koreasat-5A will also provide maritime coverage of the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South China Sea, and East China Sea, SpaceX said. In addition to delivering the satellite, the Falcon 9 had a secondary mission of attempting to land the rocket’s first-stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, positioned in the Atlantic Ocean. That occurred successfully about eight minutes after liftoff. SpaceX has returned and landed a Falcon 9’s first stage 19 times on land and at sea. Such landings are part of SpaceX’s efforts to develop fully reusable rockets, which the California-based company believed could bring down spaceflight costs.