SpaceX Falcon 9 Lifts Off In Florida, Places Indonesian Satellite In Orbit

Enlarge Image The first Block 5 Falcon 9 lifts off. It will relaunch early Tuesday from Florida.                  SpaceX

Enlarge Image The first Block 5 Falcon 9 lifts off. It will relaunch early Tuesday from Florida. SpaceX

The launch marked the first time that the Falcon 9's new "Block 5" booster had been recycled following the improved rocket's maiden launch on May 11. On that earlier flight, the Block 5, after getting the rocket soaring, landed on the company's autonomous spaceport drone ship, called Of Course I Still Love You.

Falcon 9 B1046.2 successfully landed aboard OCISLY after its second launch, paving the way for its third mission and beyond.

The Merlin upper stage engine reignited for a almost minute-long firing at 1:44 a.m. EDT (0544 GMT), giving the Merah Putih satellite enough velocity to climb into a geostationary transfer orbit with a low point a few hundred miles above Earth, and a high point expected to reach tens of thousands of miles in altitude. The spacecraft - whose name translates as "red and white", a reference to the colors of the Indonesian flag - will become part of the network run by PT Telkom Indonesia, the nation's largest telecommunications provider.

As noted by webcast host and engineer Lauren Lyons, the second successful drone ship recovery of Falcon 9 Booster 1046 (B1046) paves the way for the SpaceX's first-ever third launch of the same rocket.

Musk claims that the new Block 5 booster can be used for up to 100 launches with "moderate" refurbishment work, and costs only $50 million to launch. The space exploration company successfully flew a used booster for the first time back in March 2017. If SpaceX has its way, this won't be the last mission for this Block 5, either.

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Satelit Merah Putih, previously known as Telkom 4, has 60 transponders, 24 of which will be dedicated to customers in Southeast and South Asian countries.

Just by looking at the massive reduction in time, we can assume SpaceX has been working on the reusability of the blocks with good success. After 18 years of service, beyond it design life, Telkom-1 suffered a fuel leak a year ago and began to break apart in orbit, disrupting services.

"Satellite plays a vital role in our telecommunications infrastructure", said Zulhelfi Abidin, chief technology officer of Telkom Indonesia, in a press release earlier this year. That flight is scheduled for launch next month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

If launch remains set for August 23, liftoff is scheduled for a window opening at 11:33 p.m. EDT (0333 GMT on August 24).

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