SpaceX kicks off new chapter in rocket reusability

SpaceX Falcon launch
The glare of a Falcon 9 rocket launch lights up the night at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX sent Indonesia’s Merah Putih telecommunications satellite into orbit tonight, marking the first reuse of its new-generation Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket booster.

Liftoff came on time at 1:19 a.m. ET Aug. 7 (10:19 p.m. PT Aug. 6) after a trouble-free countdown at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Minutes after launch, the booster flew itself back down for an at-sea touchdown on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch and landing kicked off a new chapter in SpaceX’s quest to increase rocket reusability and reduce the cost of access to space. The company says its Block 5 booster can be reused 10 times, a significant step up from the now-retired Block 4 version.

Tonight’s focus on the refurbished, soot-stained booster stole the spotlight from Merah Putih, an SSL-built satellite that’s designed to provide a range of telecommunication services from geostationary orbit, including mobile broadband access across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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