The Merah Putih communications satellite was successfully launched at 0518 GMT on 7 August 2018 from Cape Canaveral by a Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 launch vehicle. The launch reused the core first stage B1046 which was previously used for the launch of the Bangabandhu 1 satellite in May. The stage subsequently landed on the drone barge “Of Course I Still Love You) eight minutes after launch.
This was the first reuse of the “Block 5” first/core stage which has been specially designed to be re-flown 10 or more times. The Falcon 9’s upper stage successfully put the Merah Putih spacecraft into its planned Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on its way to its final Geostationary position. The satellite, which was launched for PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, was formerly known as Telkom 4. It will provide fixed telecommunications services over South East Asia. The satellite is based on the SSL-1300 bus design and is designed to last a minimum of 15 years in service. Merah Putih means red and white in Indonesian, which refers to the colours on the national flag.
Phil Hylands contributed to this story.