SpaceX's brand new, recyclable Falcon 9 rocket launches again

Enlarge  A Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket launches

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket rises into the night sky to send the Merah Putih communications satellite into orbit.

The rocket deployed a Merah Putih satellite, which is a geostationary communications website that will provide service to Indonesia and other parts of South and Southeast Asia, just 32 minutes after the launch.

SpaceX maintains that the boosters can be used up to 100 times - thus vastly reducing the cost of reaching space.

"The satellite is expected to have a service lifetime of 15 or more years", SpaceX said. The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was waiting in position in the Atlantic Ocean (a camera feed loss at the moment of landing created a bit of extra drama).

The Block 5 is SpaceX's final version of the Falcon 9, and features improvements to enable first-stage reuse 10 or more times.

Furthermore, while SpaceX's competitors have focused only on recovery of the first stage launcher, SpaceX has set a target date of 2022 for development a fully recoverable 150-ton payload rocket (including second stage), which would place them several years ahead of Chinese firms, if they are successful.

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"We are going to be very rigorous in taking this rocket apart and confirming our design assumptions to be confident that it is indeed able to be reused without being taken apart", Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, had said during a conference call with reporters, referring to the first Block 5 booster. "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.

Musk had said the Block 5's first stage booster is created to fly 10 times "with no scheduled refurbishment" and with "moderate scheduled maintenance", Block 5 first stages could be capable of 100 missions.

Musk has said Block 5 will be the last major iteration for the Falcon 9.

Until now, SpaceX has retired rockets after two launches. If that happens, we'd see the same Block 5 launch a whopping three times in just one year. The new telecom craft was built by SSL in Palo Alto, California. After extensive testing and checkout, the satellite will be put into service.

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

SpaceX's latest Falcon 9 booster should return to Port Canaveral within three or four days, and will then undergo inspections to determine its fitness for a third launch.

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