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article imageSpaceX uses newest Falcon 9 booster for second time

By Karen Graham     Aug 7, 2018 in Science
SpaceX used its newest Block 5 Falcon 9 booster for the second time early Tuesday morning to put a communications satellite into orbit for Indonesia.
Today's launch was the first time a recycled Block 5 booster had been reused following the improved rocket's maiden launch on May 11, 2018. SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk claims the new Falcon 9 Block 5 is "the most reliable rocket ever built."
According to Musk, the Falcon 9 Block 5 can be reused up to 100 launches with “moderate” refurbishment work and costs only $50 million to launch. Based on this price, SpaceX's prices for commercial space launches now beats out its last competitors, which comes from Chinese firms.
Official SpaceX Merah Putih Mission Patch
Official SpaceX Merah Putih Mission Patch
SpaceX
The 229-foot-tall, two-stage "Block 5" Falcon 9 launched at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) today (Aug. 7) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, successfully lofting an Indonesian telecommunications satellite to orbit. Just nine minutes later, the rocket's first stage made a successful landing on the "Of course I still love you' drone ship aba coast, according to CNBC.
Today's launch put Indonesia's Merah Putih satellite to a high geostationary transfer orbit. Merah Putih translates into "red and white" and is a reference to the colors on Indonesia's national flag. The Merah Putih will become a part of the network of satellites run by PT Telkom Indonesia, the nation's largest telecommunications provider.
Merah Putih "will carry an all C-band payload capable of supporting a wide range of applications, including providing mobile broadband across Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The satellite is expected to have a service lifetime of 15 or more years," SpaceX representatives wrote in a mission description.
The Block 5 design upgrades
The new Block 5 has been designed to fly 10 missions with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and 100 times or more with some refurbishment involved. No Block 4 first stage booster has ever flown more than two times, nor has SpaceX ever attempted to reuse a second stage or its payload fairing a second time, according to Space.com.
Other improvements include the grid fins, which are used for steering the rocket back from space. Now they are made out of titanium, so they won't catch fire on the way back to Earth. The engines also have a new heat shielding to protect them from the high temperatures during the plunge through the atmosphere.
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. All this is part and parcel of SpaceX's reusability plan that will eventually see turnaround times for Block 5 relaunches shortened to about 24 hours.
More about Spacex, block 5, indonesian satellite, reusable booster, Technology