Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

SpaceX relaunches the final Falcon 9 rocket design

SpaceX relaunches the final Falcon 9 rocket design

Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket for a second time early Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, according to a statement from the company. A final single-engine burn put the brakes on for landing on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You" stationed several hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral. 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.

For Telkom Indonesia, the launch restores the state-owned operator's fleet back to three satellites after one of its satellites exploded in orbit last August.

The launch and landing kicked off a new chapter in SpaceX's quest to increase rocket reusability and reduce the cost of access to space.

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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. Though SpaceX hasn't released much about what they found when they did take the Block 5 apart, the quick turnaround between launches indicates that Block 5 seems to be living up to that promise.

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

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.

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The first stage was also the first of SpaceX's upgraded line of "Falcon 9 Block 5" rockets, featuring improvements to make the vehicles more reliable and easier to reuse. So after the May launch, Musk said, "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart", as Ars Technica reports. The satellite will be deployed approximately 32 minutes after liftoff.

"Once we recover this booster, we plan to fly it a third time later this year", Lyons said. The new telecom craft was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California.

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