SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

SpaceX Re-Launches 'Block 5' Rocket for 1st Time, Nails Landing Again

Falcon 9 B1046.2 successfully landed aboard OCISLY after its second launch, paving the way for its third mission and beyond.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off early Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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

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.

Eight minutes into the flight, the booster swooped down from space to its second tail-first landing on legs on the deck of SpaceX's modified barge, the "Of Course I Still Love You", stationed 400 miles down range in the Atlantic Ocean. It became the 28th booster that SpaceX has ever recovered.

This was the first time that SpaceX reused one of its new powerful Block 5 boosters - the final upgrade of the Falcon 9 that is supposed to be able to go to space and back for 100 times.

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SpaceX is striving to lower launch costs through rocket recycling. If that happens, we'd see the same Block 5 launch a whopping three times in just one year. "This is possible due to those Block 5 upgrades, which brings SpaceX closer to its goal of full and rapid rocket reusability", she said on tonight's webcast, which was watched by more than 25,000 YouTube users at its peak. No Block 4 first stage booster has ever flown more than two times, nor has SpaceX ever attempted to reuse a second stage or its payload fairing a second time, according to Space.com.

Update 1:50 AM ET: Merah Putih is in position.

The Merah Putih satellite launched Tuesday will provide C-band telecommunications services over Indonesia and India.

The new telecom craft, designed for a 16-year life, was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California.

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

SpaceX had used Falcon 9 in May to send up a large communications satellite for Bangladesh from Florida. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is readying to launch NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission to study the sun, targeting a 3:48 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, liftoff from Launch Complex 37.

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