SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral

A Falcon 9 rocket supporting the Telkomsat Merah Putih 2 mission launches from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Feb. 20, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

Indonesia aims to increase broadband internet access across its country through the launch of its latest communications satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Telkomsat HTS 113BT satellite, also referred to as Merah Putih 2, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 3:11 p.m. EST (2011 UTC).

Despite some windy conditions, the Falcon 9 rocket was able to leap off the pad at the start of its two-hour launch window.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster that supported this mission, tail number B1067, made its 17th flight. Its previous launches included Crew-3, Crew-4 and a pair of Cargo Dragon spacecraft missions to the International Space Station. It also launched PSN Satria, another Indonesian communications satellite, in June 2023.

About 8.5 minutes following liftoff, B1067 landed on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ This was the first outing for JRTI since B1058 toppled over while returning to Port Canaveral in Florida in December. Tuesday’s mission marked the 72nd landing on JRTI and the 276th overall booster landing. This was also SpaceX’s 16th launch in 2024.

The Merah Putih 2 satellite successfully deployed from the Falcon 9 second stage more than 34 minutes into the flight.

Expanding internet access

The satellite poised to launch on Tuesday was built by Thales Alenia Space based on its Spacebus 4000B2 platform. The company said the Merah Putih 2 satellite “will provide more than 32 Gbps capacity over Indonesia.”

It weighs about four metric tons and will operate at an orbital position of 113° East for 15 years. According to the publication Telecom Review, the contracted work was valued at 3.8 trillion INR ($242.8 million).

A rendering of Telkomsat’s Merah Putih 2 satellite. Graphic: Thales Alenia Space

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to support our customer’s business development after Telkom 3S. HTS 113BT is the fourth telecom program to serve the Indonesian satellite operators confirming that Thales Alenia Space is able to match its customers’ needs by offering a wide telecom satellites product range,” said Hervé Derrey, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space in a 2021 statement.

The Merah Putih 2, which translates to “red and white” in Indonesian, will be the second satellite that SpaceX will launch on behalf of Telkomsat. The first was the Merah Putih, which was formerly known as Telkom-4, which launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Aug. 7, 2018, from the Cape.

That mission also marked the first preflight of a Falcon 9 Block 5 booster.

Merah Putih 2 will be launched to a geosynchronous transfer orbit roughly 33 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 rocket supporting the Telkomsat Merah Putih 2 mission transits an 87 percent full Moon as it climbed towards geosynchronous transfer orbit. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now