After an aborted attempt yesterday, Block 5 successfully launches into space. They also landed the most powerful version yet of their Falcon 9 rocket.
The space agency originally tried to take off on Thursday. But they aborted the flight just a minute before launch due to an issue with ground systems.
The so-named Block 5 upgrade took off from the company’s launchpad at Kennedy Space Center. Thus, sending a communications satellite into orbit for Bangladesh. Shortly after, the rocket touched down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the 25th successful rocket landing for SpaceX and the 14th on one of the company’s drone ships.
Falcon 9 Block 5 carried the Bangabandhu-1 satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Bangabandhu-1, the first geostationary communications satellite for the nation of Bangladesh.
Block 5 rocket is expected to be the company’s most durable, capable of being reused 10 or more times with minimal refurbishments. Thus, saving money and improving turnaround time for launches. SpaceX officials have called it “the final substantial upgrade” to its Falcon 9 rocket.
Ideally, once one of these rocket lands, SpaceX will turn it horizontal, attach a new upper stage and nose cone on top, turn it vertical on the launchpad, fill it with propellant, and then launch it again.
Since the Falcon 9’s first flight in 2010, SpaceX has been steadily improving the rocket. Thus, tweaking the engines to seek out more thrust and upgrading components for improved reusability.
SpaceX hopes to start firing these rockets off at a more rapid pace after they land.
On Thursday, CEO Elon Musk said SpaceX aims to fly, land, and re-fly the same Block 5 booster in 24 hours, a feat SpaceX hopes to accomplish as early as next year.
The $250 million Bangabandhu satellite is expected to improve television, telephone, data, Internet and emergency communications in Bangladesh, as well as parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Bangabandhu 1 is named after Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and has a life expectancy of about 15 years.
Thumbnail image: The first SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center May 11. Screenshot via SpaceX.