A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Bulgaria's first communications satellite into orbit after it blasted off from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, June 23 at 3:10 p.m. EDT.

Mission Used Previously Flown Falcon 9 Booster

The mission marks the second time that Elon Musk's space transport services company used a previously flown Falcon 9 booster. SpaceX has been working on launching used rockets in a bid to reduce the financial cost of space launches, which could make future space missions more affordable.

"Today's Falcon 9 launch of BulgariaSat-1 to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit was SpaceX's second successful mission with a flight-proven booster," SpaceX said.

Bulgaria's First Communications Satellite

The BulgariaSat-1 satellite, which was built by Palo Alto, California-based SSL company, is the first communications satellite owned by Bulgaria. The craft will provide television and data-communications services to Bulgaria, the Balkans, Middle East, Northern Africa, and some parts of Europe.

"BulgariaSat-1's payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders, in order to meet the current demand for high quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting, as well as various other communications applications," SpaceX said.

Satellite Healthy After Deployment From Launcher

BulgariaSat and Bulsatcom CEO Maxim Zayakov said that the satellite was healthy following its launch on Friday. He said that ground controllers were able to establish contact with BulgariaSat-1 a few minutes after it was deployed from the launcher.

Zayakov said that after power-generating solar arrays unfurl on the satellite, a series of on-board engine burns will reshape the satellite's orbit at about 22,300 miles above Earth over the next few days.

By early August, the satellite should be at geostationary orbit to start its 15-year mission of beaming television. The controllers will park the satellite along the equator at 1.9 degrees east where the craft's orbit will match the rate of the Earth's rotation to provide constant coverage over Europe.

"It's a big milestone and gives us a chance for regional development, more presence in the region, as well as throughout Europe, where we have our main coverage," Zayakov said.

SpaceX Making Space More Accessible To Small Countries And Companies

Zayakov said that SpaceX's cost-cutting ways made space more accessible for small nations and money-conscious companies like BulgariaSat. The BulgariaSat-1 costs $235 million and this covers the purchase of the satellite, launch services, insurance and ground systems.

Zayakov said that without SpaceX, small countries and small companies would not even be able to think about space. Zayakov also thinks that costs would be more affordable in the future because of reusability with SpaceX's capability of recovering and relaunching boosters.

Bulsatcom currently leases transponders on the 14-year-old satellite Hellas-Sat 2. The newly launched communications satellite will add more capacity to the company's network.

BulgariaSat-1 will broadcast satellite television channels into businesses and homes. A Bulsatcom subsidiary in Serbia will also relay the TV channels through the newly launched satellite.

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