Just minutes later the Falcon 9 first stage made a pinpoint rocket assisted re-landing on a droneship waiting hundreds of mile offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Overall this counted as the second launch and second ocean landing for the Block 5 booster.
Liftoff of the Merah Putih telecommunications satellite took place right at the opening of the two-hour long launch window in the dead of night at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday, Aug. 7, from seaside Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.
The rocket put on a fabulous sky show that delighted onlookers from near and far for many minutes due to the nearly complete absence of view obscuring clouds.
The successful soft landing set up the possibility of a first of its kind third launch for this particular Block 5 Falcon 9 first stage – and counts as another major milestone towards SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s dream of rocket recycling and slashing launch costs to a fraction of what’s been possible heretofore.
The Block 5 is also the Falcon 9 version that will launch US and partner astronauts to space aboard the Crew Dragon commercial crew spaceship sometime in 2019 – via a development effort funded by NASA.
The first commercial crew astronauts for the Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner were announced by NASA on Aug. 3.
The stunning middle-of-the-night blastoff of the Falcon 9 carried the Merah Putih telecommunications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit for the nation of Indonesia.
This was the 15th flight of a previously flown rocket booster.
The satellite was launched to geostationary transfer orbit and eventually an altitude some 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above Earth.
Up close prelaunch view of nose cone encapsulating Merah Putih telecomsat atop used SpaceX Falcon 9 erect on pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The booster looked sooty in appearance during remote camera set up at pad 40. See images herein.
Up close prelaunch view of landing legs at base of used SpaceX Falcon 9 erect on pad 40 for Merah Putih comsat launch Aug. 7, 2018 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
|Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com|
The 5800 kg (12,780 pound) satellite was built by SSL (formerly Space Systems/Loral) in Palo Alto, Ca., and completed ahead of schedule for Telkom Indonesia, also known as PT Telkom.
Merah Putih will be located at 108 degrees East longitude. “It is an all C-band satellite that enhances both internet and telephone service for populations in remote regions and will be used to offload backhaul for cellular service,” says SSL.
The Merah Putih spacecraft built by SSL. Credit: SSL
The new name of Merah Putih is derived from the red and while colors of the Indonesian flag.
The satellite has a design lifetime of 16 years or more.
It will serve the 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago as well India and other parts of South and Southeast Asia. Satellites for the “backbone” of telecommunications in Indonesia, along with other technologies, such as submarine cable.
“Satellite plays a vital role in our telecommunications infrastructure,” said Mr. Zulhelfi Abidin, Chief Technology Officer of Telkom, in a statement.
“SSL has been an excellent spacecraft supplier and has completed the satellite construction ahead of schedule. We look forward to traveling to Florida to see the satellite launch later this summer.”
The satellite is based on the SSL 1300 series bus. which provides the flexibility to support a broad range of applications and technology advances.
It is equipped with 60 C-band transponders. 36 transponders will be used in Indonesia and the rest will be used for the Indian market.
“Merah Putih, which was completed ahead of schedule, will replace Telkom-1, at 108 degrees East, where it will expand on Telkom’s coverage to serve new markets. Its all C-band payload will enhance both internet and telephone service for populations in remote regions and offload backhaul for cellular service.”
During Tuesday’s launch the rocket’s first and second stages were fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 propellants and the countdown led to ignition of all nine Merlin 1D first stage engines generating some 1.7 million pounds of thrust at pad 40.
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Indonesian journalists pose prelaunch at sunset with SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching the nations Merah Putih comsat Aug. 7, 2018 on pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com