"Competition is a great for organizations. It keeps them sharp, it keeps people motivated, so this is all a good thing," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told reporters during a prelaunch conference call.
"They may not look at it that way, but hopefully they come to appreciate it in the future," she said.
Monday's launch period extends until 6:43 p.m. EST. The Falcon rocket, which consists of a nine-engine first stage and a single-engine upper-stage, is aiming to release the spacecraft, known as SES-8, at the high end of an elliptical orbit that reaches more than 50,000 miles above Earth, about one-quarter of the way to the moon.
PHOTOS: Berthing a Dragon: An Astronaut's Spectacular View
From there, the spacecraft will fire its own steering rockets to circularize its orbit and drop down to about 24,000 miles, where it will be used to relay television, cable, broadband and other communications services in India, China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia.
"Even with rockets that have flown for a long time and that are considered quite reliable ... with any orbital launch, because the passing grade is 100 percent - you can't issue a recall or a software patch or something, it's all or nothing - there's always some risk associated with the flight not working. So we're very appreciative that SES would place a bet on SpaceX," Musk said.