Photos: Previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket blasts off with Merah Putih satellite

A Falcon 9 rocket booster which first flew in May took off for the second time Tuesday from Cape Canaveral carrying the Indonesian Merah Putih communications satellite.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) launcher lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday on SpaceX’s 15th mission of the year.

Turning toward the east from Florida’s Space Coast atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the Falcon 9 climbed into orbit for deployment of the Merah Putih communications satellite for Telkom Indonesia. The roughly 12,800-pound (5,800 kilogram) spacecraft, built by SSL of Palo Alto, California, will provide C-band communications services over Indonesia, India and other parts of Southeast and South Asia.

U.S. military satellite tracking data indicated the Falcon 9 released the Merah Putih spacecraft in an elliptical transfer orbit ranging between approximately 120 miles (200 kilometers) and 18,330 miles (29,500 kilometers) in altitude, with an inclination of 27.1 degrees.

The “sub-synchronous” transfer orbit — the intended target for Tuesday’s mission — puts Merah Putih below its intended operational altitude. The satellite will use its on-board engine to make up the altitude shortfall.

All photos: SpaceX.

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