Thaicom 8 launch successful, and SpaceX stuck another landing!

SpaceX successfully launched the Thaicom 8 spacecraft to geosynchronous transfer orbit yesterday, after a one-day delay due to a possible issue with the upper stage.  Engineers were able to clear the rocket for launch, and yesterday’s attempt went perfectly, including the risky ocean landing.  Landing after a geosynchronous launch is very tricky, because there’s almost no propellant left — just enough for the landing burn.  It has only cold gas thrusters and its grid fins to steer and decelerate to that point.  And yet, the Falcon 9 first stage nailed another landing on Of Course I Still Love You!

The last landing from geosynchronous orbit left the stage too damaged to be reused.  It will take a few weeks to a month for SpaceX engineers to determine whether this one fared any better.

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