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After delay, SpaceX launches communications satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a communications satellite took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station overnight after a last-minute delay.

The launch originally was scheduled for Saturday night. The delay was yet another in a string of setbacks since the rocket’s initial targeted launch date in July. SpaceX has not given the reason for the delays.

Off the coast of Florida, the company’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” recovered the rocket’s Block 5 booster in its automated return to Earth. SpaceX officials say the new Block 5 boosters can fly up to 10 times with routine inspections and up to 100 times with refurbishment.

The rocket’s payload was the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite, developed by Canadian telecommunications company Telesat and shared by Hong Kong’s APT Satellite.

The 15,564-pound satellite is built to stay in orbit for more than 15 years and designed to expand Telesat’s broadcast, enterprise and government communications coverage in China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean region and Hawaii.

The satellite also will enable direct connectivity from any point in Asia to the Americas, Telesat said.

Telstar 18’s sister satellite, Telstar 19, was launched from the Space Coast in July with a mission of increasing communications services in the Caribbean, South America, Canada and the North Atlantic.

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