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

Christopher Davidson
August 7, 2018

The rocket, using a first stage that flew in May with the Bangabandhu-1 satellite for Bangladesh, lifted off at 1:18 a.m.

Pre-programmed commands gently nudged the satellite away from the rocket at the mission's 32-minute mark, and live views from the Falcon 9 rocket showed the Merah Putih spacecraft separating from the Falcon 9's second stage over Africa.

Falcon 9's first stage was also recovered on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean. The company did not attempt to recover the rocket's payload fairings since "Mr Steven", the boat equipped to catch them, is based in the Pacific Ocean.

The 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.

The landing was the second for this particular first stage, which also pulled one off on May 11 during the first-ever flight of a Block 5 Falcon 9.

By 2019, SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes that the company will be able to launch and land a Falcon 9 booster, then launch it again 24 hours later.

Put very simply Falcon 9 Block 5 is an iteration of the venerable launch vehicle that best represents SpaceX moving from reusable rockets as experimental prototypes to a successfully developed and implemented technology - with Block 5, SpaceX is effectively proclaiming that Falcon 9's reusability design has been completed and optimized thanks to dozens of rocket landings (28) and reuses (15).

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He said the Block 5's first stage booster is created to fly 10 times "with no scheduled refurbishment". This was SpaceX's 15th launch so far this year and its 60th of a Falcon 9 rocket.

Abdus Somad Arief, director of Telkom Indonesia's Wholesale and International Service division, said at APSAT 2018 that the majority of the capacity on the operator's two other satellites was for backhauling traffic for the company's Telkomsel cellular business.

Merah Putih, formerly called Telkom-4, replaces Telkom-1, bringing coverage to Indonesia, India and other parts of Asia to expand broadband and telephony services.

Merah Putih's on-board propulsion system will be used to circularize the orbit at the intended 22,300-mile altitude and to maneuver it to its designated operational location at 108 degrees east longitude.

Tuesday's flight came 16 days after an early morning Falcon 9 launch July 22 that sent the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into orbit for Telesat.

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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