Enlarge A Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket launches
07 August, 2018, 20:23
SpaceX on Tuesday successfully re-launched its used Block 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, deploying the Indonesian Merah Putih satellite in the orbit just over half an hour later.
As in May, the reflown first-stage booster relit its engines after stage separation, and went through a series of burns to set down on the drone ship, christened "Of Course I Still Love You".
On board was Merah Putih, a communications satellite for Indonesia. 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. SpaceX is striving to lower launch costs through rocket recycling. The company's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, said engineers are also working on ways to recover the Falcon 9's second stage.
The 12,800-pound satellite, built by SSL, features 60 C-band transponders to provide mobile services across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
They say "third times a charm", but that expression is usually reserved for success after failure.
Just three months separated today's mission from the first launch of the same Block 5 booster.
Musk has said Block 5 will be the last major iteration for the Falcon 9.
SpaceX only had a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:18 am EST Tuesday in which to complete the mission.
Next up for SpaceX is launch of Telesat's Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications station from Cape Canaveral around August 17, following by launch of an Earth-observation satellite for Argentina. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart".
Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch.
Launch commentator Lauren Lyons said the booster would be prepared for its third launch later this year. Another predawn Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 25 delivered 10 Iridium voice and data relay payloads to orbit.
A flight readiness review Monday approved the continuation of final launch preps for Parker Solar Probe, which will fly closer to the sun than any previous mission.
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