SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

Its first launch was in May 2018.

Less than three months later, at 1:18 a.m. Tuesday, the same first-stage booster fired nine Merlin engines to roar into darkness from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 with 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

Formerly designated Telkom-4, the satellite renamed Merah Putih - representing the Indonesian flag's red and white colors - will replace the Telkom-1 spacecraft launched in 1999.

Equipped with 60 transponders, Satelit Merah Putih will support the existing Telkom 2 and Telkom 3S satellites to provide services for customers in Indonesia and foreign countries amid rising demand.

SpaceX upgraded its Falcon 9 rocket earlier this year and launched the booster back in May.

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.

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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. CEO Elon Musk ultimately hopes to make it economical for an even bigger rocket - the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR - to transport human settlers to Mars. That it only took the company a few months to send the booster back to the launchpad is very promising and could mark the beginning of an era of more affordable flights with reusable boosters.

The turnaround between the Bangabandhu 1 and Merah Putih missions did not set a record for the shortest time between flights of the same Falcon 9 first stage. Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto, California, built the satellite ahead of schedule, according to Telkom Indonesia. The new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

With the third reuse now explicitly on the table for B1046 "later this year", Falcon 9 has broken a two-launch ceiling that long loomed over its older predecessors.

"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. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is readying to launch NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission to study the sun, targeting a 3:48 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, liftoff from Launch Complex 37.

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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