SpaceX to launch first 'Block 5' rocket from Cape Canaveral

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This newest version of the Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the launch window today is missed, a backup launch window is scheduled for Friday, May 11, at 4:14 p.m.

There was an abort on the planned 5:47 p.m. EDT launch from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Musk expressed SpaceX's intent to build a fleet of 30 to 50 additional Block 5 boosters meant to support a minimum of three hundred Falcon 9 launches before the family of rockets is retired.

The fun doesn't end with takeoff. Just over eight minutes after lift-off, the first stage of the rocket will attempt to land on an autonomous drone ship floating more than three hundred miles off the Atlantic coast. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk described some of the changes on a call with reporters: more powerful engines, with an 8% increase in thrust; a stronger heat shield for the trip back through Earth's atmosphere; a black "interstage" that joins the upper and lower stages of the rocket; and new retractable landing legs. "The rocket has to be designed 25 percent more than the expected load that in the case of a satellite launcher". SpaceX will also be using titanium grid fins (which deploy during and help control reentry), rather than aluminum.

Musk said he was proud of the SpaceX team who worked hard prior to the launch to make it a successful one.

Bangabandhu-1, which was built by the French company Thales Alenia Space, will be Bangladesh's first communications satellite. Block 5's design should allow for up to 10 relaunches - or up to 100 times if the rockets are refurbished.

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The Air Force mission is part of the Space Test Program-2 to test military and scientific research satellites.

Falcon 9's main aim is to propel the first high-orbit communications satellite for Bangladesh, called Bangabandhu Satellite-1.

Enhanced rocket reusability also is a core tenet of Musk's broader objectives for normalising space travel and ultimately sending humans to Mars. The helium is used to pressurize the propellant tanks and provide the muscle needed for steering.

Current weather reports suggest the mission has an 80% chance of lifting off, and SpaceX has a window of about two hours to launch the mission. "One of the biggest goals of Block 5 is ease of reusability". "We tried to summarize all of these lessons learned into a booster that then is able to fly and be recovered and fly again multiple times without a lot of refurbishment".

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