Indonesia's Telkom launches newest satellite


At 1:18 AM E.T., SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. 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 used its newest style booster for a second time to put a communications satellite into orbit for Indonesia. The spacecraft - whose name translates as "red and white", a reference to the colors of the Indonesian flag - will become part of the network run by PT Telkom Indonesia, the nation's largest telecommunications provider.

The Falcon 9 rocket shortly before liftoff.

The first stage pulsed cold gas nitrogen thrusters to ready for its descent, while the Falcon 9's second stage - powered by a single Merlin engine - ignited for the first of two burns to send the Merah Putih satellite into an egg-shaped geostationary transfer orbit. 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. 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.

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A few minutes after separation, three of the first stage's nine engines re-ignited to slow the booster for entry back into the discernible atmosphere, using four titanium "grid fins" at the top of the rocket to maintain its orientation and trajectory. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart". "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". 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 new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Merah Putih will be located at 108 degrees east longitude.