SpaceX to launch Indonesian communications satellite next weekend

Launch planned for early Saturday morning

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The Space Coast will host yet another early morning launch next weekend when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, marking the fourth mission in a row targeting a pre-dawn liftoff.

News 6 partner Florida Today reports that while exact times have not yet been confirmed, a warning to pilots and mariners issued by the Air Force's 45th Space Wing indicated that the area around Launch Complex 40 must be clear between 11:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, and 3:15 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. SpaceX's opportunity to launch will be within that window, likely after midnight.

The rocket's first stage is expected to target an autonomous drone ship landing shortly after liftoff and return to Port Canaveral a few days later. The Air Force will release a weather forecast by Wednesday.

Secured inside the Falcon 9's protective nose cone, or fairing, will be Merah Putih, a 12,800-pound commercial communications satellite also known as Telkom-4 for PT Telkom Indonesia. The name refers to the red and white of the Indonesian flag, according to California-based SSL, which built the spacecraft.

Its mission: Provide communications services to the 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, India and parts of Southeast Asia over the course of its 15-year lifespan.

Merah Putih kicks off a busy August for the Space Coast, which will host another early morning launch when NASA's high-profile Parker Solar Probe takes flight on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 37 at 3:48 a.m. on Aug. 11. SpaceX is also expected to launch at least one more Falcon 9 from the Cape next month.