SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite and kicks off new round for rocket reusability

Gwen Vasquez
August 7, 2018

State telecommunications company PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) witnessed its newest satellite, Satelit Merah Putih, launched into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the United States, at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, or around midday in Jakarta.

SpaceX successfully landed the rocket's first stage for a second time on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean.

The second stage stayed in orbit and deployed a communications satellite that will provide service to Indonesia and other areas of South and Southeast Asia. The name refers to the red and while colors of Indonesia's flag. This milestone may feel small in the shadow of SpaceX's accomplishments over the last ~18 months but make no mistake: the second flight of a Block 5 booster is by far the company's most significant achievement in recent years. Yes, the first stage was just used in a launch back in May that sent Bangladeshi communications satellite Bangabandhu into orbit.

With its successful landing, Falcon 9 may well go into space for the third time.

If it works, we may very well see the same Block 5 again, perhaps in just a few short months. The Block 5 had its initial launch on May 11.

The company aims for the Block 5 rocket to be used as many as 10 or more times in a row, with little or no maintenance between launches. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart".

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

He said the Block 5's first stage booster is created to fly 10 times "with no scheduled refurbishment".

The new telecom craft, designed for a 16-year life, was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California.

SpaceX's next mission is set for launch no earlier than August 23 with the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite to provide broadcast, enterprise and government communications services over parts of India, China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean region.

Merah Putih will be located at 108 degrees east longitude.

APT Satellite of Hong Kong has an agreement to use capacity on Telstar 18 VANTAGE, which is also known as Apstar 5C.

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