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SpaceX booster flies again with Indonesia satellite

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SpaceX booster flies again with Indonesia satellite

The booster was the first Block 5 first stage to fly, and helped put Bangladesh's Banghabandu-1 telecom satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit back in May.

The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket after landing on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday with the Merah Putih communications satellite.

Merah Putih "will carry an all C-band payload capable of supporting a wide range of applications, including providing mobile broadband across Indonesia and Southeast Asia".

Tuesday's launch was the third SpaceX mission in 16 days, and the company's 15th launch of the year overall.

In December 2015, the Falcon 9 rocket achieved the first ever orbital class rocket landing after returning from delivering 11 communications satellites and this year, it launched Falcon Heavy, the heaviest rocket in use.

As noted by webcast host and engineer Lauren Lyons, the second successful drone ship recovery of Falcon 9 Booster 1046 (B1046) paves the way for the SpaceX's first-ever third launch of the same rocket. Ahead of the debut launch of the Falcon 9 Block 5, Elon Musk said that within the next year, he wanted to fly the same vehicle twice in a 24-hour period. One of the most important fronts is the development of an low-priced reusable rocket booster system that can be used to launch satelites and manned craft into space. 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. If SpaceX has its way, this won't be the last mission for this Block 5, either. Meanwhile, the second stage continued onward and went through its own follow-up firing to send Merah Putih into its intended orbit. Uncrewed tests of the full human-rated launch system still have to be completed, but each successful Block 5 launch gives NASA (and SpaceX) greater confidence.

The turnaround between the Bangabandhu 1 and Merah Putih missions did not set a record for the shortest time between flights of the same Falcon 9 first stage. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit past year.

"Satellite plays a vital role in our telecommunications infrastructure", said Zulhelfi Abidin, Telkom's chief technology officer.

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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