SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral

Cristina Cross
August 7, 2018

SpaceX has successfully reused the first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster less than three months after the rocket's major reliability and reusability upgrade debuted.

After a final lightning-fast series of computer checks, the 229-foot-tall rocket was released from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, quickly accelerating skyward atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

The first stage powered the vehicle out of the dense lower atmosphere, shutting down as planned about two-and-a-half-minutes after liftoff.

Seconds before touchdown, four legs deployed and the rocket settled to an on-target landing. Eastern time from Space Launch Complex 40.

Around the same time, the Falcon 9's upper stage shut down and entered a preliminary orbit before a almost 20-minute coast across the Atlantic. It became the 28th booster that SpaceX has ever recovered.

But SpaceX engineers needed to actually make sure that was true, that after its first use Block 5 would be ready to get out there again.

"Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart", Musk said during a May 10 call with reporters. "So this rocket probably won't re-fly for a couple of months".

Musk had said the Block 5's first stage booster is created to fly 10 times "with no scheduled refurbishment" and with "moderate scheduled maintenance", Block 5 first stages could be capable of 100 missions. With "moderate scheduled maintenance", Block 5 first stages could be capable of 100 missions, Musk said.

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The block 5 is the rocket SpaceX founder Elon Musk is counting on to launch astronauts to the International Space Station starting next year, the centerpiece of the company's drive to lower launch costs while improving reliability.

The launch has been delayed from August 2 and August 4.

The Merah Putih satellite launched Tuesday will provide C-band telecommunications services over Indonesia and India. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was 18 years old, operating three years past its design life. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit past year.

Merah Putih's on-board propulsion system will be used to circularize the orbit at the intended 22,300-mile altitude and to maneuver it to its designated operational location at 108 degrees east longitude.

Merah Putih's on-board engine will circularize its orbit over the equator in the coming weeks. "SSL has been an excellent spacecraft supplier and has completed the satellite construction ahead of schedule".

But for SpaceX aficionados, the most exciting part of this launch is that we've seen part of it before.

SpaceX had used Falcon 9 in May to send up a large communications satellite for Bangladesh from Florida. The new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

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