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07 August 2018, 04:25 | Edward Lowe
The Merah Putih satellite
In the tiny hours of Tuesday morning, SpaceX launched an Indonesian satellite in its 15th flight this year.
That now paves the way for SpaceX to launch the block 5 rocket for a third successive launch - which would be the first time in history a booster was used three times. The name refers to the red and while colors of Indonesia's flag.
The Merlin upper stage engine reignited for a almost minute-long firing at 1:44 a.m. EDT (0544 GMT), giving the Merah Putih satellite enough velocity to climb into a geostationary transfer orbit with a low point a few hundred miles above Earth, and a high point expected to reach tens of thousands of miles in altitude.
Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
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With the aid of grid fins, rocket thrust and four landing legs, the first stage touched down on SpaceX's landing barge around eight minutes into the mission.
The first stage landed right about the same time the second stage engine shut down after reaching the planned preliminary "parking" orbit.
The rocket's upgrades are aimed at shortening the turnaround time for recovery and reuse. "And the structure that holds the engines to the rocket's bottom is bolted down now, not welded, to make it easier to take apart and inspect", according to The Verge.
The new satellite will replace the aging Telkom 1 satellite, which has been in operation since 1999.
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The new telecom craft, designed for a 16-year life, was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California.
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 satellite is owned by PT Telcom, the largest provider of telecommunications services in Indonesia. After extensive testing and checkout, the satellite will be put into service.
The rocket, using a first stage that flew in May with the Bangabandhu-1 satellite for Bangladesh, lifted off at 1:18 a.m.
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