SpaceX places Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A into orbit!

Falcon 9 roared from the pad at Cape Canaveral today, to place a pair of commercial telecom satellites onto geosynchronous transfer orbit.  Both are Boeing-built spacecraft with exclusively electric propulsion, and will use ion drives to finalize their orbits over a period of months.  Falcon 9 performed flawlessly from the customers’ perspective, but unfortunately not from SpaceX’s; the experimental ocean landing was a failure due to a loss of thrust on one of the three engines used for the touchdown.  Elon Musk tweeted that it experienced “RUD” on the barge; “RUD” stands for “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly” and is an engineer’s dry way of saying it basically blew up.  (Although, as an engineer myself, I must clarify — this term isn’t limited to things that are officially explosions.  Catastrophic structural failures and fires can end up that way too.  I don’t know whether it exploded or just hit the deck hard enough to break up.  Outcome’s pretty much the same either way.)  The barge “Of Course I Still Love You” survived the experience.  SpaceX is already working to improve the Merlin engines, so that they are more tolerant of one engine losing thrust at this critical point.  But watch the ascent anyway!  Apart from the RUD, it looks glorious:


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