SpaceX launches Swedish internet satellite to orbit (video)

SpaceX launched a Swedish broadband satellite tonight (Jan. 3) on the company's second mission of 2024.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Ovzon 3 satellite lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT).

The Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth tonight as planned, touching down back at Cape Canaveral about eight minutes after liftoff. It was the 10th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Ovzon 3 satellite on Jan. 3, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX)

The Falcon 9's upper stage, meanwhile, continued carrying Ovzon 3 skyward. It deployed the spacecraft in geosynchronous transfer orbit about 38.5 minutes after launch as planned, SpaceX announced in a post on X.

"Ovzon 3 is the first privately funded and developed Swedish geostationary satellite ever to be launched," Ovzon wrote in a statement. "It's also the most powerful GEO satellite ever to be put into orbit, covering 1/3rd of the Earth via its steerable spot beams."

Geostationary orbit lies about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth. At this altitude, orbital speed matches our planet's rotational speed, allowing satellites to "hover" over the same patch of ground continuously. 

Tonight's launch was the second of 2024 for SpaceX. The company lofted 21 of its Starlink internet satellites, including the first six "direct to cell" spacecraft, yesterday (Jan. 2) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

There will be many more liftoffs to come: SpaceX representatives have said the company aims to launch 144 orbital missions this year. That would smash the SpaceX record of 96, which was set in 2023.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.