Space X Booster Flies Again - This Time With an Indonesian Satellite

09 August, 2018, 08:39 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • SmallSat Express

That now paves the way for SpaceX to launch the block 5 rocket for a third successive launch - which would be the first time in history a booster was used three times.

It's also the first re-flight of the company's new, recyclable Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, which had its first launch back in May. The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was waiting in position in the Atlantic Ocean (a camera feed loss at the moment of landing created a bit of extra drama). It was successfully recovered and spruced up for tonight's rerun of the GTO launch profile. Today's launch put Indonesia's Merah Putih satellite to a high geostationary transfer orbit.

On board was Merah Putih, a communications satellite for Indonesia. The satellite is expected to have a service lifetime of 15 or more years, ' as stated in a mission description.

The hope is to use it for 10 launches before it needs to be looked at and restored.

In conjunction with the re-launch, SpaceX announced plans to shorten re-launch times for the Block 5 booster to less than 24 hours by 2019, which would further solidify SpaceX's dominance of the private space flight market - dominance that has already pushed Russian competitors completely out of the market and now threatens to lap the technology of the last remnants of Chinese competition. The company says its Block 5 booster can be reused 10 times, a significant step up from the now-retired Block 4 version. Yes, the first stage was just used in a launch back in May that sent Bangladeshi communications satellite Bangabandhu into orbit. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida with Telkom Indonesia's Merah Putih satellite.

The upgrades to the Falcon 9 Block 5 include a beefed up heat shield, retractable landing legs and other modifications to make the first stage simpler to reuse, reducing the refurbishment needed between missions.


In May 2018, Falcon 9 was used to send a large communications satellite for Bangladesh from Florida and the vehicle landed on a drone ship, it was inspected, refurbished and made ready for flight again.

Update 1:50 AM ET: Merah Putih is in position.

SpaceX's goal is the rapid reusability of its rockets to drive down the cost of launches.

The new telecom craft, designed for a 16-year life, was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit a year ago.

A 65-minute launch window opens up at 3:33 a.m. on Saturday.

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