SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carried a satellite into orbit early Tuesday morning, marking a milestone 50th launch for the company’s workhorse rocket.
The six-ton satellite is set to improve television, broadband, and telecommunications services in Europe and Northwest Africa, and it was “almost the size of a city bus,” as Elon Musk tweeted, adding that it’s the largest geostationary satellite his company has ever flown.
SpaceX launched its first Falcon in 2010 as part of a test mission for NASA, and at the time the little rocket was unable to reach orbit. But over the past eight years, the rocket has grown more than 50 feet, added some 600,000 pounds, and doubled its carrying capacity. In 2015, Falcon 9 became the first orbital-class rocket in the world to successfully execute a controlled propulsive landing. It’s designed to be reusable, but no attempt was made to recover the boosters after Tuesday’s launch because of hazard weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean.
The model of Falcon 9 launched on March 6 was a Block 4. SpaceX hopes to settle on a final iteration of the rocket soon with its Block 5, which is expected to undergo test launching soon and could someday transport humans into space.
The milestone launch highlights how SpaceX has been ramping up its activity, successfully launching more rockets in the past two years than competitors like Arianespace and Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s United Launch Alliance.
SpaceX has launched five rockets this year, the most notable being Falcon Heavy in February, and last year the company launched 18 rockets—more than double the amount in 2016.
You can watch a video of the launch below: