SpaceX delays launch debut of upgraded Falcon rocket

Cesar Mills
May 12, 2018

The Falcon 9 rocket used in Friday's launch was the first flight of an upgraded version of the rocket dubbed Block 5.

That doesn't tell us much, but it's enough to know that whatever caused the launch abort wasn't serious enough for the entire mission to be delayed. The communication satellite is named Bangabandhu-1 after the country's founding father.

SpaceX successfully launched a rocket Friday afternoon, carrying Bangladesh's first satellite, in a second attempt to launch its upgraded workhorse rocket. He said SpaceX will have "30 to 50" of the Block 5 rockets in its fleet.

SpaceX has now landed 11 of its boosters on land and 14 on its droneships, which are floating platforms in the ocean, as part of its effort to bring down the cost of spaceflight and re-use costly rocket parts.

Musk said there'll be no Block 6. "Rocket and payload are in good health - teams are working towards tomorrow's backup launch opportunity".

SpaceX is one of two private companies hired by NASA to ferry astronaut crews to the space station.

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Over the course of this year, SpaceX will gradually add thermal protection to the upper stage to optimize the stage for the return journey to Earth, Musk said.

The United States has not flown humans to space since 2011.

The company stated that the Block 5 model "is created to be capable of 10 or more refurbishments, and is very limited", which will help shorten the time between successive launches, which the company has been doing for some time.

"Would you rather fly in an aircraft that has never had a test flight before or would you rather fly in an aircraft that has flown many times successfully?" he said.

Such a feat would require more than just the rapid turnaround of Falcon 9's reusable first-stage booster.

Musk said greater reusability is already having an impact on SpaceX's famously low pricing for rocket launches. The company will also have to cover the not-inconsequential development costs for the BFR and for SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellite constellation. The constellation's first prototype satellites were sent into orbit in February, and within the next few years, Starlink is expected to become a major contributor to SpaceX's bottom line.

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