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

Adjust Comment Print

The company aims for the Block 5 rocket to be used as many as 10 or more times in a row, with little or no maintenance between launches.

That now paves the way for SpaceX to launch the block 5 rocket for a third successive launch - which would be the first time in history a booster was used three times. 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). With Tuesday's flight, SpaceX's record stands at at 60 successful Falcon 9 launches, with 28 successful booster recoveries, 12 on land and 16 on droneships.

The Merlin upper stage engine reignited for a almost minute-long firing at 1:44 a.m. EDT (0544 GMT), giving the Merah Putih satellite enough velocity to climb into a geostationary transfer orbit with a low point a few hundred miles above Earth, and a high point expected to reach tens of thousands of miles in altitude.

SpaceX only had a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:18 am EST Tuesday in which to complete the mission. The Merah Putih satellite is ready to be deployed.

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.

If it works, we may very well see the same Block 5 again, perhaps in just a few short months.

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. So after the May launch, Musk said, "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart", as Ars Technica reports. In March 2017, the company was able to successfully relaunch its block 4 booster rocket that had previously launched a year earlier.

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

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

Merah Putih will be located at 108 degrees east longitude.

Comments