SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX launched an upgraded version of its Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Coast Friday.

Elon Musk's company managed to launch its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket without any incidents, acing both the liftoff and the landing of the booster's first stage, Space.com reports.

The Falcon 9 took flight at 4:14 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 - a communications satellite for Bangladesh - on its way to orbit.

"We intend to demonstrate two orbital launches of the same Falcon 9 vehicle within 24 hours no later than next year", Musk said May 10 during a call with reporters.

The payload contained the Bangabandhu Satellite-1, the first geostationary communications satellite for the country of Bangladesh. But even without the Block 5, SpaceX is already slated to have an extremely productive year, with 30 launches on deck for 2018.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel.


After launch, the first-stage booster of the rocket detached and guided itself back to Earth, where it landed safely on a platform, or drone ship, in the ocean so it can be flown once again on a future mission.

SpaceX provided viewers with brief play-by-play updates on its Twitter account where it eventually shared an image (above) of the first stage successfully touching down on the droneship.

"Standing down today due to a standard ground system auto-abort at T-1 min", the company tweeted shortly after the launch was scrubbed". The satellite will provide TV, internet and other telecom services to Bangladesh and the surrounding region.

But Nasa still requires seven successful flights before the new rocket receives final certification for a manned mission. The upgraded version boasts a series of important advantages over the previous "Block 4" model and is created to maximize the rocket's reusability.

With greater refurbishment, a Block 5 could be launched up to 100 times.

The Block 5 is the last version of the Falcon 9 that SpaceX will produce. "We don't want to put too much engineering effort into that relative to BFR, and we obviously will not take any action that creates risk for the ascent phase of the rocket". The nine Merlin engines in the rocket's first stage and the single "vacuum Merlin" in the second stage boast about 8 percent and 5 percent more thrust, respectively, than their counterparts in the Falcon 9 Block 4.

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