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.