The private SpaceX venture has successfully launched its first major communications satellite into orbit atop an upgraded version of its Falcon 9 booster.
As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, "SpaceX has launched small payloads into low orbits and even made deliveries to the International Space Station, but this latest launch is more ambitious."
The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday evening carrying the 7,000-pound SES-8 satellite, which was inserted into geostationary orbit about 30 minutes later. Among other things, the satellite is aimed at increasing bandwidth capacity in Asia.
The launch came after two previous aborted launches due to technical glitches. The first try came on Nov. 25 and the second on Thanksgiving Day.
"The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer," SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell told reporters in a Nov. 24 teleconference before SpaceX's first launch attempt, according to Space.com. "It's going to really shake the industry to its roots."
SpaceX, founded by former PayPal CEO Elon Musk, has a 12 cargo mission contract to resupply the international space station, with two successful missions already accomplished.