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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral

07 August 2018

SpaceX launched Block 5 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The name refers to the red and while colors of Indonesia's flag.

Today's launch lofted the Merah Putih satellite to a high geostationary transfer orbit. It will now attempt to land on the Of Course I Still Love You barge - if successful, the company will most likely be planning for its third launch. SpaceX aims to eventually launch a Falcon 9 rocket, recover the booster, and re-launch it within 24 hours.

The Block 5 is SpaceX's final version of the Falcon 9, and features improvements to enable first-stage reuse 10 or more times. In March 2017, the company was able to successfully relaunch its block 4 booster rocket that had previously launched a year earlier.

With the aid of grid fins, rocket thrust and four landing legs, the first stage touched down on SpaceX's landing barge around eight minutes into the mission. This milestone may feel small in the shadow of SpaceX's accomplishments over the last ~18 months but make no mistake: the second flight of a Block 5 booster is by far the company's most significant achievement in recent years.

Pre-programmed commands gently nudged the satellite away from the rocket at the mission's 32-minute mark, and live views from the Falcon 9 rocket showed the Merah Putih spacecraft separating from the Falcon 9's second stage over Africa.

The first stage landed right about the same time the second stage engine shut down after reaching the planned preliminary "parking" orbit. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was 18 years old, operating three years past its design life.

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

The satellite launch event was live streamed via Telkom's YouTube channel and Usee TV television.

The two-hour launch window opens on Tuesday, August 7 at 1:18 a.m. EDT, or 5:18 UTC. The satellite will provide Internet, telephone and cellular backhaul services, according to SSL. The new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral