- An updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, tailored for eventual crewed missions for NASA, made its debut launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying a communications satellite for Bangladesh into orbit.
- The newly minted Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 — equipped with about 100 upgrades for greater power, safety and reusability than its Block-4 predecessor — lifted off.
- Minutes later, the rocket’s main-stage booster flew itself back to Earth to achieve a safe return landing on an unmanned platform vessel floating in the Pacific Ocean. T
- he recoverable Block-5 booster is designed to be reused at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between flights, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost – a key to the SpaceX business model.
Tell us about the Ninth SpaceX launch
- Enhanced rocket reusability also is a core tenet of SpaceX owner and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s broader objectives of making space travel commonplace and ultimately sending humans to Mars.
- SpaceX has safely return-landed 24 of its boosters and reflown 11 of them.
- The flight marked the ninth SpaceX launch so far this year, compared to five orbital-class missions the company had logged at the same point in 2017.
- It came a day after the original launch countdown was halted one minute before blastoff time due to a technical problem detected by the rocket’s onboard computers.
- This was second attempt by SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, appeared to have gone off without a hitch.
What about Bangabandhu-1?
- The rocket’s payload, the Bangladeshi government’s first communications satellite, Bangabandhu-1, was placed into Earth orbit just 33 minutes after launch, according to SpaceX.
What about Commercial Crew Programme?
- The Block-5 also marks another milestone for Musk’s California-based company.
- It is expected to be the first SpaceX vehicle to satisfy NASA’s standards for its Commercial Crew Programme to carry agency astronauts to the International Space Station.
- NASA requires seven successful flights before the new rocket receives final certification for a manned mission.
- Besides missions to the space station, the new rocket will be used to launch U.S. Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads.
- Block-5 marks the final version of the Falcon 9 lineup before SpaceX introduces its super heavy-lift launch vehicle, dubbed the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which will be designed to send manned missions to Mars.
- SpaceX is one of two private companies hired by NASA to ferry astronaut crews to the space station. The other is Boeing Co.