A Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday just before sunset and safely delivered its commercial communications satellite cargo into Earth orbit about 35 minutes later.
The first stage of the Falcon 9, which was flying for its second time, also safely completed its second landing about eight-and-a-half minutes after launch, touching down on the SpaceX drone barge dubbed "Of Course I Still Love You."
Liftoff of the two-stage rocket from KSC's historic pad 39A was right on time at 6:53 p.m. EDT.
The rocket was carrying a single communications satellite for two companies: SES and EchoStar. The spacecraft's 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders will provide radio, television and other data relay services for customers in North and Central America, including Hawaii and Alaska.
Wednesday's successful mission makes United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 next up to bat with an attempt early Saturday morning, Oct. 14, at 3:31 a.m. EDT.
This Atlas 5 is to carry a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. Its launch has been scrubbed three times so far because of unacceptable weather and a technical problem.
-- Jim Banke