Newest SpaceX booster flies again with Indonesia satellite

Pablo Tucker
August 7, 2018

SpaceX conducted its first relaunch of the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket August 7, successfully delivering a communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit for Telkom Indonesia.

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SpaceX only had a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:18 am EST Tuesday in which to complete the mission. A final single-engine burn put the brakes on for landing on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You" stationed several hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral.

That launch back in May was the first time the company used Block 5 for an actual mission.

Just three months separated today's mission from the first launch of the same Block 5 booster. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has advertised the Falcon 9 Block 5 as "the most reliable rocket ever built". "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart".

Musk has said that reusing rockets is essential for cutting costs in spaceflight and making space exploration more accessible.

Liftoff came on time at 1:19 a.m. ET Tuesday (10:19 p.m. PT Monday) after a trouble-free countdown at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit previous year.

Launch commentator Lauren Lyons said the booster would be prepared for its third launch later this year.

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. One of the most important fronts is the development of an affordable reusable rocket booster system that can be used to launch satelites and manned craft into space. He says that could happen as early as next year.

SpaceX's next mission is set for launch no earlier than August 23 with the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite to provide broadcast, enterprise and government communications services over parts of India, China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean region. The satellite will provide Internet, telephone and cellular backhaul services, according to SSL. The third reuse will pave the way for the 4th, 5th, 10th, 50th ... reflight of individual Falcon 9 boosters, an absolutely integral requirement for SpaceX to achieve its ultimate goals of sustainably colonizing the solar system - starting with Mars - and thus "backing up" humanity. Another predawn Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 25 delivered 10 Iridium voice and data relay payloads to orbit.

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

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