The newest version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will get its first big reusability test early tomorrow morning (Aug. 7), and you can watch the action live.
A Falcon 9 "Block 5" variant with a pre-flown first stage is scheduled to launch an Indonesian telecommunications satellite called Merah Putih at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. You can watch the liftoff live here at Space.com courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the spaceflight company's website.
This will be the first repeat liftoff for any Block 5 Falcon 9; the rocket debuted this past May and has flown just three missions to date, all of them with new vehicles.
The first stage flying ytomorrow morning was part of the May 11 maiden liftoff, which lofted Bangladesh's first communications spacecraft, Bangabandhu Satellite-1. The booster pulled off a landing at sea that day, and it will attempt to repeat that success during the upcoming launch: SpaceX's robotic drone ship Of Course I Still Love You will be waiting to receive the rocket stage a few hundred miles off the Florida coast.
The Block 5 features a variety of reusability-boosting upgrades over its predecessor, the Block 4. Block 5 first stages should be able to launch 10 times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and 100 times or more with some minor refurbishment involved, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.
The Falcon 9 will launch Merah Putih — whose name means "red and white," a reference to the colors of the Indonesian flag — to a geostationary transfer orbit tomorrow morning. If all goes according to plan, the company PT Telekom Indonesia will use the satellite to provide communications services to customers throughout Indonesia and the greater Southeast Asia region, SpaceX representatives have said.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.