SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

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It's also the first re-flight of the company's new, recyclable Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, which had its first launch back in May.

Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

The satellite launched today, dubbed Merah Putih, which means "red and white", in a reference to the Indonesian flag will assist PT Telkom Indonesia to provide communications services to customers throughout Indonesia and the greater Southeast Asia region.

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The up-and-down journey was the second such trip for the same Falcon 9 booster, which debuted May 11 with the successful launch of Bangladesh's first communications satellite. "This rocket probably won't refly for probably a couple of months, but by late this year we should be seeing substantial reflight of Block 5 vehicles, probably with Block 5 boosters seeing their third, maybe their fourth reflight".

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.

But for SpaceX aficionados, the most exciting part of this launch is that we've seen part of it before. The Block 5, unlike previous models, is created to need little taking-apart and refurbishment in between launches. In March 2017, the company was able to successfully relaunch its block 4 booster rocket that had previously launched a year earlier. Block 5 is different, and that's by design.

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Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, said in May that the company would likely spend a few months conducting a rigorous inspection of the first recovered Block 5 Falcon 9 booster before preparing it for another launch. "And the structure that holds the engines to the rocket's bottom is bolted down now, not welded, to make it easier to take apart and inspect", according to The Verge.

Next up for SpaceX is launch of Telesat's Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications station from Cape Canaveral around August 17, following by launch of an Earth-observation satellite for Argentina.

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

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If launch remains set for August 23, liftoff is scheduled for a window opening at 11:33 p.m. EDT (0333 GMT on August 24).

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