SpaceX launched its newest and updated version of its Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, on Friday, May 11, which had on board the Bangladesh government’s first geostationary communications satellite, Bangabandhu Satellite-1.
The rocket blasted off from the historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at around 4:14 p.m. EDT (20:14 GMT).
According to a SpaceX news release, the rocket’s second stage deployed the 3.9-ton (3.5 metric tons) satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit in approximately about 33 minutes from launch.
The launch was previously scheduled for Thursday, May 10. But, unfortunately, the attempt resulted in a scrub after an automated abort within less than a minute remaining before a scheduled launch. This was the reason that the flight was rescheduled for 24 hours.
According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the upgraded Block 5 rocket is designed to require far less maintenance and refurbishment between flights. It is capable of performing 10 or more times without being refurbished between launch and landing. He added that the only thing that needs to change is the reload propellant and the rocket will be ready to fly again. It is, in fact, SpaceX’s most reusable rocket yet which drastically reduce costs of trips to space.
The SpaceX founder also said he hopes to demonstrate that the same rocket can be launched, landed and then launched again within 24 hours.
Notably, the Block 5 is the vehicle that will carry humans to space when SpaceX launches its Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station. The latest version of the Falcon 9 rocket comes with a host of upgrades including more powerful engines, more resilient hardware, less weight and a more easily produced structure.
The Bangladeshi communication satellite will provide a wide array of services, including radio, direct-to-home TV, internet, phone services and backhaul. It will be operated by the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL).