Early Tuesday morning, SpaceX performed the latest launch of its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, placing the AsiaSat 8 satellite into orbit. While the launch was originally scheduled for 1:25 am EDT (0525 GMT), a problem with the vehicle’s first stage—never explained in detail by SpaceX—pushed the launch back towards the end of an unusually long launch window. The problem was resolved, though, and the Falcon 9 lifted off at 4:00 am EDT (0800 GMT), releasing the AsiaSat 8 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit.
While SpaceX didn’t issue a press release about the launch, AsiaSat did, confirming the launch was successful and that the Space Systems Loral-built satellite was operating normally. The launch is the first of two back-to-back missions for AsiaSat: a second Falcon 9 will launch AsiaSat 6 towards the end of the month. (This launch demonstrated a three-week turnaround between launches, so assuming that can be maintained, another launch at the end of the month is feasible.)
Unlike the previous two launches, SpaceX did not attempt to “land” the first stage in the ocean, citing the need to reserve the rocket’s performance for the payload. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did tweet that they did relight the first stage’s engines after stage separation, though:
High velocity reentry (2700 lbs/sqft) appeared to succeed, but, as expected, not enough propellant to land for this and the next mission.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 5, 2014
That launch took place less than a day after SpaceX confirmed it eventually shift commercial launches like this one from Texas. Gov. Rick Perry announced that SpaceX has agreed to build its planned commercial launch complex on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico east of Brownsville. That announcement was expected after the FAA completed an environmental review of the proposed spaceport and gave its OK last month for the project to proceed.
Texas is providing a relatively modest amount of funding for the project: it will provide $2.3 million from the Texas Enteprise Fund, plus $13 million from a separate Spaceport Trust Fund to Cameron County to support infrastructure work needed for the spaceport. The release from Perry’s office cites “$85 million in capital investment into the local economy” from the spaceport, suggesting that SpaceX will provide the bulk of that funding for the project.
And there was a smaller development for SpaceX as well this week: a new landlord. Chambers Street Properties announced it was buying the building that serves as SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, for $46.7 million. SpaceX leases the building under an agreement that runs through January 2023, and there’s no indication that the sale would affect the company in any significant way.