SpaceX launches most powerful Falcon 9 rocket yet

According to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, block 5 Falcon 9 rockets should be able to fly 10 or more times in a row with little to no maintenance.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 launched the Bangladesh Communications Satellite Co.'s first orbital satellite, dubbed Bangabandhu-1, into orbit.

SpaceX is slated to launch the first high-orbit communications satellite ever for the country of Bangladesh, and the company is using its most advanced Falcon 9 yet for the job. At such a situation SpaceX could not solve the issue before the launch window closed around 6:22 pm EDT.

The rocket is the latest and greatest version of the company's Falcon 9 platform, and it's created to be extremely easy to refurbish and reuse. The satellite is expected to expand communication capabilities across Bangladesh and in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. SpaceX landed the rocket's first stage back on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Before transporting humans, however, SpaceX will have to launch the rocket seven or more times. While the first stage of the Block 4 Falcon 9 was limited to just a couple of launches, the first stage of a Block 5 rocket can reportedly lift off a total of 10 times - with the possibility of this being further extended to a massive 100 times with regular refurbishment.

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The Falcon 9 will eventually transport astronauts to the ISS under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The first crewed flights of the Block 5-Dragon system could come as early as this year, SpaceX representatives have said.

"That would be exciting", Musk said in reference to driving down the cost of launching to space during a press call Thursday.

She thanked France for helping Bangladesh make the satellite, the U.S. for taking the satellite to orbit, and Russian Federation for leasing the orbital slot to Bangladesh.

SpaceX hasn't released official specifications for its Block 5 rockets yet, but it has shared some information about improvements to this generation's reusability and reliability.

  • Douglas Reid