SpaceX launches one of its largest satellites, but there’s no rocket landing

SpaceX is celebrating the textbook deployment of one of its largest satellites yet.

The  successful mission of yet another Falcon 9 rocket means it’s full steam ahead for SpaceX’s plan to significantly ramp up its launch schedule to once every two to three weeks.

SpaceX’s most recent launch, which carried a satellite the size of a double-decker bus, took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday night at just after 7.20 p.m. local time, and was live-streamed on the SpaceX YouTube channel.

Sadly, there was no chance this time around to enjoy the spectacle of yet another stunning rocket landing. The satellite’s heavy launch mass of about 6,100 kg (13,400 pounds) meant the Falcon 9 needed all of its thrust to get the satellite to orbit, plus it went into a much higher orbit than previous launches, leaving it with too little fuel to get back to Earth.

The seven-meter-long satellite — operated by British telecoms firm Inmarsat — was deployed about half an hour after launch before being “maneuvered to its geostationary orbit, 22,236 miles (about 36,000 km) above Earth, where it will deploy its solar arrays and reflectors and undergo intensive payload testing before beginning commercial service,” according to SpaceX. Those solar arrays are enormous, too, stretching out more than 130 feet — about equal to the wingspan of a Boeing 737 aircraft.

The satellite will boost the power of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network, which has been delivering broadband connectivity across the world since 2015.

Monday’s launch marked the sixth SpaceX mission of 2017 and paves the way for Elon Musk’s private space company to significantly increase its launch schedule. Its next mission is set for June 1 when it will take supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

Despite a few major setbacks along the way, the team has made impressive progress with its reusable rocket system, which is helping to drastically reduce the cost of space missions.

Future plans include taking astronauts to and from the ISS using its Dragon crew capsule and a “tourist trip” around the moon, though its lofty long-term goals include a manned mission to Mars.

Emerging Tech

NASA’s space observatory will map the sky with unprecedented detail

NASA is preparing to launch a cutting-edge space observatory to create the most detailed map ever produced of the sky. Doing so will involve surveying hundreds of millions of galaxies. Here's how it plans to do it.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Emerging Tech

Chandra X-ray telescope uncovers evidence of the universe’s missing matter

Where is all of the matter in the universe? NASA's Chandra telescope has uncovered evidence of hot gas strands in the vicinity of a quasar which could explain the missing third of matter which has puzzled astronomers for years.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Smart Home

No strings attached: This levitating lamp uses science to defy gravity

Now on Kickstarter, the Levia lamp is a cool industrial-looking lamp which boasts a levitating bulb. Looking for a table light that will dazzle visitors? You've come to the right place.
Emerging Tech

The Great White Shark’s genome has been decoded, and it could help us end cancer

In a significant step for marine and genetic science, researchers have decoded the genome of the great white shark. The genetic code revealed a wealth of insight into what makes these creatures so successful from an evolutionary standpoint.
Emerging Tech

‘Guerrilla rainstorm’ warning system aims to prevent soakings, or worse

Japanese researchers have created a "guerrilla rainstorm" early-warning system aimed at preventing severe soakings, or worse. The team hopes to launch the system before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft will collect a sample from asteroid Ryugu by shooting at it

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 will soon touch down on the asteroid Ryugu, where it will collect a sample by shooting a bullet into the soil. The sample will be returned to Earth in 2020 to learn about the formation of asteroids.