SpaceX launches Indonesian communications satellite to orbit (video)


SpaceX’s busy 2024 continued with another launch today (Feb. 20).

A Falcon 9 rocket launched the Merah Putih 2 communications satellite from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today at 3:11 p.m. EST (2011 GMT).

The Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff as planned, making a vertical landing on the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean.

Related: 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

a black-and-white spacex falcon 9 rocket launches into a blue sky.

a black-and-white spacex falcon 9 rocket launches into a blue sky.

It was the 17th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. That’s two shy of the company’s reuse record, which it set in December 2023.

The rocket’s upper stage, meanwhile, continued powering its way skyward, eventually deploying Merah Putih 2 into geosynchronous transfer orbit 34.5 minutes after liftoff.

Once it’s up and running, the 8,800-pound (4,000 kilograms) satellite will provide fast internet service for customers in Indonesia for the next 15 years or so. It will be operated by Telkomsat, a state-owned Indonesian telecom company.

side by side photos show a rocket coming back to earth for landing on a ship at sea. at left is the rocket's-eye view, showing the ship from above. at right is a ship's-eye view, showing the landing pad awaiting the rocket.

side by side photos show a rocket coming back to earth for landing on a ship at sea. at left is the rocket’s-eye view, showing the ship from above. at right is a ship’s-eye view, showing the landing pad awaiting the rocket.

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Today’s launch was the 16th for SpaceX already in 2024. Three of this year’s launches came in a 23-hour span over Feb. 14 and Feb. 15, when the company launched the classified USSF-124 mission for the U.S. Space Force, sent the private IM-1 moon-landing mission skyward and lofted a set of its own Starlink satellites.

And the launch cadence could ramp up as 2024 proceeds; SpaceX representatives have said that the company plans to launch 144 orbital missions this year.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:30 pm ET on Feb. 20 with news of successful launch and rocket landing, then again at 3:48 pm ET with news of satellite deployment.





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