SpaceX on Tuesday successfully re-launched its used Block 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, deploying the Indonesian Merah Putih satellite in the orbit just over half an hour later.
After separating from the satellite, the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. Though SpaceX hasn't released much about what they found when they did take the Block 5 apart, the quick turnaround between launches indicates that Block 5 seems to be living up to that promise.
But for SpaceX aficionados, the most exciting part of this launch is that we've seen part of it before.
SpaceX hasn't gone into detail about how hard it was to get the used Block 5 ready for reuse but SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk made Twitter comments last month that hinted it isn't an easy process. Musk told reporters at a pre-launch conference prior to the Bangabandhu mission that "our goal, just to give you a sense of how reusable we think the design can be - we intend to demonstrate two orbital launches of the same Block 5 vehicle within 24 hours, no later than next year". "Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart".
The upgrades to the Falcon 9 Block 5 include a beefed up heat shield, retractable landing legs and other modifications to make the first stage simpler to reuse, reducing the refurbishment needed between missions.
Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch. The new satellite will service Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Tuesday's flight came 16 days after an early morning Falcon 9 launch July 22 that sent the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into orbit for Telesat.
The mission got underway at 1:18 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) when the Falcon 9's nine Merlin 1D engines ignited and throttled up to full thrust, producing a brilliant plume of fiery exhaust that instantly turned cooling water into billowing clouds of steam. That flight is scheduled for launch next month from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.