A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the sky around Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida early Tuesday with a successful launch, placing an Indonesian telecommunications satellite into orbit and demonstrating the reusability of the company's upgraded booster.
Falcon 9's first stage was also recovered on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean.
The second stage stayed in orbit and deployed a communications satellite that will provide service to Indonesia and other areas of South and Southeast Asia. SpaceX is striving to lower launch costs through rocket recycling.
But SpaceX engineers needed to actually make sure that was true, that after its first use Block 5 would be ready to get out there again.
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.
Falcon 9 B1046.2 successfully landed aboard OCISLY after its second launch, paving the way for its third mission and beyond. The Block 5 had its initial launch on May 11.
SpaceX only had a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:18 am EST Tuesday in which to complete the mission.
The company aims for the Block 5 rocket to be used as many as 10 or more times in a row, with little or no maintenance between launches. Meanwhile, the second stage continued onward and went through its own follow-up firing to send Merah Putih into its intended orbit. Shortly after the launch, Musk told Ars Technica, "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 taking it apart".
Launch commentator Lauren Lyons said the booster would be prepared for its third launch later this year.
Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih's launch.