SpaceX launches Indonesian comsat with 'used' booster

James Marshall
August 7, 2018

The primary goal of Tuesday's flight was to boost the Merah Putih - "Red and White" - communications satellite into orbit for PT Telkom, the largest provider of telecommunications services in Indonesia.

Falcon 9 B1046.2 lifts off from Pad 40 for its second launch.

That launch back in May was the first time the company used Block 5 for an actual mission.

An artist's impression of the Merah Putih communications satellite in orbit with its solar arrays and antennas deployed.

The first stage powered the vehicle out of the dense lower atmosphere, shutting down as planned about two-and-a-half-minutes after liftoff.

"All stations, this is recovery, Falcon 9 has landed", radioed a member of SpaceX's launch and landing team.

Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

A view of Falcon 9 B1046.2's first stage engine plume expanding as the rocket reaches thinner air. A second engine firing was carried out 26 minutes after launch to finish the job.

Tuesday's launch was the third SpaceX mission in 16 days, and the company's 15th launch of the year overall. It was also the 28th time SpaceX has recovered one of its first stage boosters intact, and the 15th re-flight of a Falcon first stage.

This is not the first time SpaceX has successfully relaunched one of its rockets, but it is the first time that the uber-reusable "block 5" rocket blasted off. After it is hauled back to Cape Canaveral, it will be inspected and, if no major problems are found, it will go into the stockpile of available block 5 stages ready for use in downstream missions. In comparison, SpaceX spent 11 months between its first-ever launch of a previously flown Falcon 9 booster in March 2017 and that rocket's initial flight in April 2016.

"Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart", Musk said during a May 10 call with reporters. "So this rocket probably won't re-fly for a couple of months". Although the rocket had to be torn down and refurbished between flights, there's been some clear improvement in that turnaround time for the block 5. Block 5 is different, and that's by design.

SpaceX is set to launch their Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Merah Putih communications satellite from Cape Canaveral to Tuesday, August 7.

Block 4-generation Falcon 9 boosters could only be reused once.

The 12,800-pound satellite, built by SSL, features 60 C-band transponders to provide mobile services across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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