Article image SpaceX uses newest Falcon 9 booster for second time

Enlarge Image The first Block 5 Falcon 9 lifts off. It will relaunch early Tuesday from Florida.                  SpaceX

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). Its first launch was in May 2018.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday with the Merah Putih communications satellite.

Merah Putih was successfully deployed roughly 30 minutes later, primed to help telecommunications company PT Telekom provide service to Indonesia and other areas in South and Southeast Asia.

"The satellite is expected to have a service lifetime of 15 or more years", SpaceX said.

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

The launch and landing kicked off a new chapter in SpaceX's quest to increase rocket reusability and reduce the cost of access to space. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has called Block 5 "the most reliable rocket ever built". The space exploration company successfully flew a used booster for the first time back in March 2017.

Just three months separated today's mission from the first launch of the same Block 5 booster.

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Musk has said Block 5 will be the last major iteration for the Falcon 9.

According to SpaceX representatives, 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. After the vehicle landed on one of SpaceX's drone ships on completion of its flight, the company did its inspection and refurbishment over the last three months to get it ready for flight again.

Just by looking at the massive reduction in time, we can assume SpaceX has been working on the reusability of the blocks with good success.

The Merah Putih satellite then was released into an elliptical transfer orbit, the normal first step in getting a communications satellite into its intended orbit 22,300 miles above the equator.

The new satellite will replace the aging Telkom 1 satellite, which has been in operation since 1999.

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.

SpaceX only had a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:18 am EST Tuesday in which to complete the mission.

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