SpaceX launches Indonesian comsat with 'used' booster

SpaceX launches Indonesian comsat with 'used' booster

For Telkom Indonesia, the launch restores the state-owned operator's fleet back to three satellites after one of its satellites exploded in orbit last August.

Keeping up a run of middle-of-the-night launches from Cape Canaveral, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket powered by a recycled first stage booster climbed into orbit early Tuesday with the Indonesian Merah Putih communications satellite. Merah Putih translates into "red and white" and is a reference to the colors on Indonesia's national flag.

"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.

After separating from the satellite, the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to SpaceX's success in this area, it is becoming one of the most valuable venture-backed startups in the US.

It was only the fourth flight of an upgraded block 5 booster since the rocket's debut in May and the first launch and recovery of a previously flown block 5 - the same stage that helped launch a Bangladeshi satellite during its maiden flight three months ago.

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Due to the success of this landing, which was the 28th booster that the company has ever recovered, Falcon 9 may go into space for the third time.

Today's launch was the third SpaceX mission in 16 days, and the company's 15th launch of the year overall. Its upgraded rocket allows the company to reuse a first-stage booster 10 times or more. Though SpaceX hasn't released much about what they found when they did take the Block 5 apart, the quick turnaround between launches indicates that Block 5 seems to be living up to that promise.

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

Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch. The spacecraft will be positioned in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator at 108 degrees east longitude. After extensive testing and checkout, the satellite will be put into service. That flight is scheduled for launch next month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is readying to launch NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission to study the sun, targeting a 3:48 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, liftoff from Launch Complex 37.

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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