SpaceX plans to re-launch a Block 5 rocket on Tuesday just three months after its original flight. The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was waiting in position in the Atlantic Ocean (a camera feed loss at the moment of landing created a bit of extra drama).
SpaceX has tried to advance that reusability campaign by making as-yet unsuccessful attempts to recover the Falcon 9's nose cone, or fairing, after West Coast launches.
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.
Launch window is slated to open at 1:18 a.m. ET.
Tonight's focus on the refurbished, soot-stained booster stole the spotlight from Merah Putih, an SSL-built satellite that's created to provide a range of telecommunication services from geostationary orbit, including mobile broadband access across Indonesia and Southeast Asia. This was SpaceX's 15th launch so far this year and its 60th of a Falcon 9 rocket.
The 60-transponder, all C-band satellite separated from the rocket's upper stage nearly 32 minutes later. Rather, it really is the case that the first Block 5 reuse is one of the most important things ever done by SpaceX. SpaceX founder Elon Musk's goal is for swift launch turnarounds using the same rocket, even twice within 24 hours.
Reportedly, SpaceX has boasted that the new Block 5 first stages should be able to launch 10 times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and 100 times or more with some minor refurbishment involved. SpaceX is striving to lower launch costs through rocket recycling. 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. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida with Telkom Indonesia's Merah Putih 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".
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.
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.
SSL completed construction of the Merah Putih satellite ahead of schedule, according to Telkom Indonesia, also known as PT Telkom.