SpaceX Just Launched A Rocket With A Critical Reused Part

Enlarge  A Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket launches

SpaceX launched the first previously-flown "block 5" version of its Falcon 9 rocket early Tuesday, sending an Indonesian communications satellite into space and successfully recovering the first stage booster with a pinpoint landing on an offshore droneship.

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Its primary objective is to launch a 5.8-ton satellite called Merah Putih meant to improve telecommunications in Indonesia, India, and much of Southeast Asia.

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

The company aims for the Block 5 rocket to be used as many as 10 or more times in a row, with little or no maintenance between launches.

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. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart".

Musk has said that reusing rockets is essential for cutting costs in spaceflight and making space exploration more accessible.

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Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch.

He said the Block 5's first stage booster is created to fly 10 times "with no scheduled refurbishment".

With the third reuse now explicitly on the table for B1046 "later this year", Falcon 9 has broken a two-launch ceiling that long loomed over its older predecessors.

This is not the first time SpaceX has successfully relaunched one of its rockets, but it is the first time that the uber-reusable "block 5" rocket blasted off. The satellite is owned by PT Telcom, the largest provider of telecommunications services in Indonesia.

Merah Putih's on-board propulsion system will be used to circularize the orbit at the intended 22,300-mile altitude and to maneuver it to its designated operational location at 108 degrees east longitude. The new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

APT Satellite of Hong Kong has an agreement to use capacity on Telstar 18 VANTAGE, which is also known as Apstar 5C.

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