Commercial launch firm SpaceX puts satellite into orbit

Jan. 6, 2014 at 6:30 PM
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Commercial space launch company SpaceX says its Falcon 9 rocket successfully placed a satellite into orbit following its 5:06 a.m. launch from Florida Monday.

Despite chilly, windy and cloudy conditions did not keep the rocket from launching and, around 30 minutes later, putting a Thai broadcasting satellite into orbit, USA Today reported.

SpaceX is hoping to become a participant in commercial satellite launches, reversing a situation that has seen the United States losing out to overseas competitors.

Friday's launch, the third successful liftoff for the upgraded Falcon 9, should lead to SpaceX being given the go-ahead to bid for launches of the Department of Defense's national security missions and NASA's high-value science satellites.

The U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program has been open to commercial participants in hopes of lowering launch costs.

"Competition for EELV launches benefits both the Air Force and the American taxpayer," SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin said. "SpaceX greatly appreciates the Air Force's ongoing support throughout the certification process and we look forward to providing the U.S. with highly reliable launch services for national security satellites."

After 4 years with no commercial satellite launches from Cape Canaveral, Monday's mission was the second in a month for SpaceX.

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