While most of America is asleep, Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, achieveed a major company milestone on Tuesday.
In 2008, SpaceX was flirting with bankruptcy after three successive rocket failures. Now it's launched its workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9, for the 50th time as it moves todominate thelaunch industry.
"Falcon 9 flight 50 launches tonight, carrying Hispasat for Spain. At 6 metric tons and almost the size of a city bus, it will be the largest geostationary satellite we've ever flown," Musk tweeted on Monday.
SpaceX fired off the rocket at 12:33 a.m. ET early Tuesday morning from a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
About 33 minutes after launch, the rocket's upper stage should deploy the satellite, officially called Hispasat 30W-6, into an orbit some 22,300 miles above Earth. Once there, it will hover above the planet's surface and provide "television, broadband, corporate networks and other telecommunications solutions," SpaceX said in a press kit for the mission.
If all goes well, the launch will join a string of major recent successes for SpaceX.
Those highlights include the first-ever launch of the company's behemothFalcon Heavy, which is the most powerful operational rocket in the world, and the deployment of two experimental satellites — a pioneering test for Musk's plan to bathe Earth in high-speed, low-cost internet access .