The last few months have been tough for Elon Musk. He has faced several challenges with the production issues around Tesla Inc.’s (TSLA) Model 3 car, shareholder lawsuits and investigation by federal regulators over a tweet about taking Tesla private, and questions around the financials of his electric vehicle company. (For more, see SEC Probing Tesla CEO Musk's Tweets: Reports.)
However, he also seems to have tasted success recently with his other venture, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), successfully launching a commercial satellite from Florida for Telesat, a Canadian satellite communications company. The occasion marks the 16th successful mission of the year for the rocket-making company, helping it secure a remarkable feat of two years of uninterrupted achievements, according to LiveMint.
Launch Replaces Earlier Satellite
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and it successfully deployed the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite. The satellite will replace the earlier Telstar 18 deployed in 2004 and is expected to bolster communications services across the regions of Southeast Asia, Mongolia, Australia, and New Zealand. Designed for an in-orbit life of around 15 years, the satellite will enable direct connectivity from anywhere in Asia to the Americas once it starts services later this year, Telesat said. (See also, SpaceX's Rocket Wins Certification, $130M Contract.)
The successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket is the 16th of the total 30 targeted launches by SpaceX for this year. Last year, the Falcon 9 rocket became the most popular launch vehicle of the world as it hit the orbit 18 times, the maximum among the launch vehicles. (See also, How SpaceX Reinvented the Rocket Launch Industry.)
Under the Commercial Crew program that SpaceX has joined in partnership with NASA, the company has finalized the plans to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station. A demonstration flight is scheduled by SpaceX in November, and the first launch with astronauts on board is expected to occur in April 2019. In the interim, SpaceX continues to test and qualify the systems and components of the Falcon 9 rocket involved in the project, while the NASA teams will review, verify, and assess both the individual systems and components as well as the overall SpaceX launch system. (See also, SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts Before Boeing: NASA.)
The Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX was established in 2002 and operates as a privately held company. With Musk owing majority stake, other well-known investors include Google, Fidelity Investments, and Founders Fund. The company’s valuations have topped $28 billion, and it ranks among the top innovative unicorns of the world.