A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday to put the AsiaSat 6 telecommunications satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off from its seaside launch pad at 1 a.m. ET, dashing through partly cloudy, nighttime skies as it headed toward space. Tucked inside the rocket’s nosecone was the second of two satellites owned by Hong Kong-based AsiaSat.
The first satellite, AsiaSat 8, was successfully delivered into an orbit 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth on Aug. 5. "With the two satellites coming out of the factory approximately the same time we were able to book back-to-back missions," said AsiaSat chief executive William Wade. The two launches cost AsiaSat about $110 million, Wade said. SpaceX had planned to launch AsiaSat 6 two weeks ago, but delayed the flight to recheck the rocket’s systems following an unrelated accident that claimed the company’s prototype F9R reusable rocket during a test flight on Aug. 22.