SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches Indonesian satellite

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The first-stage booster previously soared in May, the first time out the gate for this upgraded rocket.

Keeping up a run of middle-of-the-night launches from Cape Canaveral, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket powered by a recycled first stage booster climbed into orbit early Tuesday with the Indonesian Merah Putih communications satellite.

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If successful, that innovation over time promises to lower the cost of launches that SpaceX now advertises online for $62 million.

Formerly designated Telkom-4, the satellite renamed Merah Putih - representing the Indonesian flag's red and white colors - will replace the Telkom-1 spacecraft launched in 1999. The satellite is expected to have a service lifetime of 15 or more years, ' as stated in a mission description.

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In December 2015, the Falcon 9 rocket achieved the first ever orbital class rocket landing after returning from delivering 11 communications satellites and this year, it launched Falcon Heavy, the heaviest rocket in use.

But it was the first time SpaceX demonstrated reuse of a Block 5-generation booster, which the company plans to be its workhorse in the coming years, until a new, super-powerful rocket dubbed the BFR is ready for service. "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". Merah Putih "will carry an all C-band payload capable of supporting a wide range of applications, including providing mobile broadband across Indonesia and Southeast Asia". Its upgraded rocket allows the company to reuse a first-stage booster 10 times or more.

Update 1:50 AM ET: Merah Putih is in position. Uncrewed tests of the full human-rated launch system still have to be completed, but each successful Block 5 launch gives NASA (and SpaceX) greater confidence. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit previous year. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was 18 years old, operating three years past its design life.

SpaceX is planning around 30 missions in 2018, up from a record of 18 in 2017.

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