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


The Falcon 9 with the Block 5 launched from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Block 5 rocket or Falcon 9's first stage booster also re-landed successfully on one of the company's drone ships "Of Course I Still Love" parked a few hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic.

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.

Such reuse goals are crucial to SpaceX's long-term mission of reducing the cost of space transportation, with an aim to eventually launch a Falcon 9 rocket, recover the booster, and re-launch it within 24 hours, according to Musk, who said in May that could be accomplished as soon as next year.

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A view of Falcon 9 B1046.2's first stage engine plume expanding as the rocket reaches thinner air.

Today's launch lofted the Merah Putih satellite to a high geostationary transfer orbit.

They say "third times a charm", but that expression is usually reserved for success after failure. That marks the second successful launch and retrieval for this particular model, which had previously launched just under three months ago, in May 2018.

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

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In the tiny hours of Tuesday morning, SpaceX launched an Indonesian satellite in its 15th flight this year.

"Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart", Musk said during a May 10 call with reporters. Meanwhile, the second stage continued onward and went through its own follow-up firing to send Merah Putih into its intended orbit.

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

After a final lightning-fast series of computer checks, the 229-foot-tall rocket was released from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, quickly accelerating skyward atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was 18 years old, operating three years past its design life.

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