Tonight, SpaceX has launched a satellite to geostationary orbit, but that payload isn't what makes this mission special: it's the rocket itself. The private space corporation has reused a Block 5 booster for the first time, the same one it used to launch a Bangladesh communications satellite back in May. Block 5 is the final version of the company's Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX expects to reuse for up to 100 times.
Falcon 9 and Merah Putih are vertical on Pad 40 in Florida. Weather is 80% favorable for the two-hour launch window, which opens Tuesday, August 7 at 1:18 a.m. EST, 5:18 a.m. UTC. https://t.co/gtC39uBC7z pic.twitter.com/xT23Oaz7bu— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 6, 2018
That launch back in May was the first time the company used Block 5 for an actual mission. SpaceX had to take it apart after it landed to make sure that it can be flown again without the need for maintenance in between flights in the future. The hope is to use it for 10 launches before it needs to be looked at and restored. That it only took the company a few months to send the booster back to the launchpad is very promising and could mark the beginning of an era of more affordable flights with reusable boosters.
SpaceX launched Block 5 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will now attempt to land on the Of Course I Still Love You barge -- if successful, the company will most likely be planning for its third launch.
Liftoff!— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 7, 2018
Main engine cutoff and stage separation confirmed. Second stage engine burn underway.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 7, 2018
Update: 1:30AM ET
Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship. pic.twitter.com/HCRvCYopuM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 7, 2018
SpaceX has successfully landed the booster on the Of Course I Still Love You barge.