SpaceX launches South Korean military satellite atop Falcon 9 rocket

The Anasis-II military communications satellite is headed to space atop a history-making rocket booster.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

The Falcon 9 booster for the Anasis-II mission is a history-making rocket. It was the booster used to deliver NASA astronauts to the ISS in May.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

SpaceX successfully launched a South Korean military communications satellite atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday after a technical issue delayed liftoff last week. 

The Anasis-II mission lifted off into blue skies at 2:30 p.m. PT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX reported successful deployment of the satellite into orbit. 

The Anasis-II launch marks SpaceX's 12thlaunch this year, the 90th flight of a Falcon 9 and the second overall for this particular booster. The booster was first flown in May to deliver NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station -- the first time a commercial company has done so. So it has some history.

Following stage separation Monday, SpaceX successfully landed Falcon 9's first stage on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.  

The South Korean satellite was originally scheduled to launch on July 14. But SpaceX pushed back blast-off "to take a closer look at the second stage, swap hardware if needed" just a day before launch.   

Anasis-II is South Korea's first military communications satellite. Because of its connection to the military, there's not a lot of information about it, except that it's based on Airbus' Eurostar E3000 satellite bus, according to the Everyday Astronaut. Anasis-II's mass is classified due to its military mission, but for context, other E3000 satellites range from 4,500 to 6,500 kilograms at launch, according to NASA Spaceflight.com

Prior to the launch, Sae Kyu Nam, president for South Korea's Agency for Defense Development, expressed regret at not being able to to attend the launch in person due to the coronavirus crisis. "Gods are with us to pave a path toward the heavens," he said in an online broadcast, thrusting his right arm into the air. "Falcon 9, seize the future." 

The Anasis-II spacecraft deployed about 32 minutes after liftoff. SpaceX didn't show the satellite deployment live on its webcast, per the customer's request, but did include verbal confirmation on the livestream. You can relive the launch below.