SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches Indonesian satellite

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches Indonesian satellite

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches Indonesian satellite

As the satellite headed to space, the first stage used grid fins and thrusters to land on a floating ship, almost 400 miles off the Florida cost.

The 229-foot-tall, two-stage "Block 5" Falcon 9 launched at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) today (Aug. 7) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, successfully lofting an Indonesian telecommunications satellite to orbit. Merah Putih translates into "red and white" and is a reference to the colors on Indonesia's national flag.

Merah Putih "will carry an all C-band payload capable of supporting a wide range of applications, including providing mobile broadband across Indonesia and Southeast Asia".

"This satellite will play an important role in enhancing telephone and internet service for Indonesian's 17,000 islands", said Lauren Lyons, systems certification engineer for SpaceX.

SpaceX has successfully landed the booster on the Of Course I Still Love You barge. Due to SpaceX's success in this area, it is becoming one of the most valuable venture-backed startups in the US.

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.

The launch was SpaceX's 15th of the year, just three shy of last year's total, and the 60th overall by a Falcon 9 rocket since its debut in 2010. The company says its Block 5 booster can be reused 10 times, a significant step up from the now-retired Block 4 version.

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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. 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.

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

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

Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch.

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.

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

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

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