It was one small step for man, but a giant leap for Elon Musk's startup SpaceX. Late yesterday, the company successfully launched its first satellite into orbit.

SpaceX's launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at about 5:40 p.m. yesterday evening. Half an hour later, the mission was completed without a hitch, the company said.

The mission -- the first from SpaceX's own Florida launch pad -- was the second of three flights required to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force. Once certification is complete, SpaceX will have the opportunity to bid on all National Security Space (NSS) missions.

Yesterday also marked the first commercial launch from Cape Canaveral in more than five years.

To date, SpaceX has nearly 50 launches under its belt, more than 60 percent of which were for commercial customers.

"The successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite confirms the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers to the industry's highest performance standards," SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said in a statement.

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