SpaceX launches Indonesian communications satellite Merah Putih

Image courtesy of PT Telkom

Today, at 1:28 a.m. EDT, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched the geostationary communications satellite Merah Putih, also known as Telkom-4, for Indonesia’s largest telecommunications service provider Telkom Indonesia.

The satellite, built by SSL, was commissioned in 2015 to replace Telkom-1, which failed last year in an incident affecting millions of consumers. Merah Putih – meaning “red and white” representing the colours of the Indonesian flag – is based on the SSL-1300 platform, with a design life of 16 years. With a mass of approximately 5800kg, Merah Putih will operate from an orbital position of 108 degrees East in geostationary orbit.

Merah Putih carries 60 C-band transponders. Of this, 24 C-band transponders and 12 Extended C-band ones will serve Southeast Asia, including Indonesia’s 17,508 islands. The other 24 C-band transponders will cater to South Asia.

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Said Rini M. Soemarno, Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, “Merah Putih [will] aid national progress, support connectivity amongst Indonesian citizens, and make communication easier throughout Indonesia.”

Indonesia also hopes that Merah Putih will elevate the country’s digital position to international standards, and become a more prominent global player.

Added Rini, “The satellite not only serves Indonesia, but also the South Asian region. This means that we making headway in internationalizing Indonesia.”

Today’s launch is significant not only because Merah Putih will solve problems caused by the Telkom-1 failure last year, but also because it is the first time SpaceX has reused its Block 5 booster. The booster used today was also used for the launch of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite, on May 11. With the Block 5, which is an upgraded version of Block 3, each booster can be used for at least 10 launches.


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