SpaceX delays launch debut of upgraded Falcon rocket

12 May, 2018, 23:11 | Author: Sidney Guerrero
  • SpaceX PAZ Starlink Falcon 9

Space Exploration Technologies Corp launched its more reusable rocket for the first time, a major step forward in reducing the cost of the closely held company's missions.

An updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, tailored for eventual crewed missions for NASA, made its debut launch on Friday from Florida's Cape Canaveral carrying a communications satellite for Bangladesh into orbit.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that he would like to see a single Block 5 rocket fly three or four times by the end of 2018. The much-awaited launch had to be pushed back nearly 24 hours, until the next launching opportunity became available.

The main aim behind the launching of the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket was to propel Bangladesh's first high-orbit communications satellite, namely, Bangabandhu Satellite-1. Those changes may make engineers easier to refurbish its first stages for more flights.

The Block-5 also marks another milestone for Musk's California-based company.

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"From now on, we become a proud member of the satellite club", a beaming Hasina said in a pre-recorded address that was broadcast on national television and social media minutes after the successful launch.

"On this day I would like to remember father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who initiated the task of entering the space age by setting up the country's first ever satellite earth station in 1974", said state minister for ICT division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, who also witnessed the event from Florida.

While few details about the Block 5 are available as of yet, Musk says that the rocket has more powerful engines, hardier hardware, less weight, and a more reproducible structure. By comparison, the other reused boosters that SpaceX has flown until now had a maximum of two launches each.

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 at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center. These upgrades provide the rocket with about 8 percent and 5 percent more thrust, respectively, compared to the "Block 4". SpaceX officials said the rocket's flight computer received an abort signal from its ground system, which turned out to be an "artifact" of an earlier test sequence that had not been properly reset. The new version of the rocket is outfitted with upgrades created to make it more durable so it can be reused as many as 10 times, dramatically cutting the costs of space missions.

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