Telkom's Merah Putih satellite. The company will save up to a quarter of the cost involved in the launch of its latest satellite with SpaceX's reusable rocket technology. (Photo courtesy of SSL)

Elon Musk's SpaceX Helps Keep Costs Down on Launch of Telkom's Merah Putih Satellite


AUGUST 06, 2018

Jakarta. Telkom Indonesia, the country's largest telecommunications company, will save up to a quarter of the cost involved in the launch of its latest satellite through reusable rocket technology.

The Merah Putih satellite cost $165 million to develop, launch and insure against launch failure, Zulhelfi Abidin, Telkom's network and information technology solutions director, said on Sunday (05/08). In comparison, Telkom-3S satellite, launched on Feb. 15, 2016, cost Telkom $215 million.

Bank Rakyat Indonesia's 2016 BRIsat project – the world's first satellite owned and operated by a bank – cost the state-owned lender $250 million to develop and launch, by Europe's Arianespace.

Telkom contracted billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, for the Merah Putih launch. The satellite will hitch a ride on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which can be reused up to 10 times.

"The process of combining the rocket with the satellite is already completed, so all that's left is to wait for the launch," Zulhelfi said.

The satellite will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.

Telkom hopes Merah Putih will help it provide extended communication services across Indonesia, particularly in the country's remote and outermost regions. The company also hopes to use the satellite to increase its business opportunities in South Asia.