In the tiny hours of Tuesday morning, SpaceX launched an Indonesian satellite in its 15th flight this year.
The two-stage "Block 5" Falcon 9 launched at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) today (Aug. 7) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, successfully lofting an Indonesian telecommunications satellite to orbit. The name refers to the red and while colors of Indonesia's flag. Its primary objective is to launch a 5.8-ton satellite called Merah Putih meant to improve telecommunications in Indonesia, India, and much of Southeast Asia.
The satellite is expected to reach its orbit at about 32,000 kilometers above sea level within the next 11 days before its full operation in the third week of September.
Put very simply Falcon 9 Block 5 is an iteration of the venerable launch vehicle that best represents SpaceX moving from reusable rockets as experimental prototypes to a successfully developed and implemented technology - with Block 5, SpaceX is effectively proclaiming that Falcon 9's reusability design has been completed and optimized thanks to dozens of rocket landings (28) and reuses (15).
Seconds before touchdown, four legs deployed and the rocket settled to an on-target landing. SpaceX had to take it apart after it landed to make sure that it can be flown again without the need for maintenance in between flights in the future.
The rocket's upgrades are aimed at shortening the turnaround time for recovery and reuse.
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Update 1:50 AM ET: Merah Putih is in position.
Merah Putih will be located at 108 degrees east longitude.
"Satellite plays a vital role in our telecommunications infrastructure", said Zulhelfi Abidin, chief technology officer of Telkom Indonesia, in a press release earlier this year.
Launch coverage can be seen on Space Coast Daily TV.
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.
APT Satellite of Hong Kong has an agreement to use capacity on Telstar 18 VANTAGE, which is also known as Apstar 5C.