SpaceX's new Falcon 9 just landed perfectly, and it's a game-changer

Christopher Davidson
May 12, 2018

Falcon 9 Block 5 is created to handle 10 or more flights with only "very limited refurbishment", according to SpaceX, this being part of the company's "rapid reusability and extremely high reliability" goals.

It was not immediately clear whether SpaceX would be able to resume the countdown and proceed with the maiden flight of its Block-5 Falcon 9 rocket or postpone the launch to another day.

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

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket developed by SpaceX completed its mission 3:50 p.m.

The Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 includes improvements such as upgraded heat shields to protect the rocket's base during re-entry.

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"Successful deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit", SpaceX said on Twitter. With periodic refurbishment, a single first-stage booster could be capable of executing on the order of 100 flights before its retirement, he said. "Ironically, we need to take it apart to prove that it does not need to be taken apart", he joked.

The company says the Block 5 variant can be re-flown as many as 10 times and can be easily refurbished between launches, which would drastically reduce the cost of a single launch. The spaceship portion of the BFR system could begin short-hop testing, similar to the Falcon 9's early Grasshopper test flights, as early as next year. If all goes according to plan, Block 5 rockets will start sending test crews to the International Space Station for NASA later this year.

Before transporting humans, however, SpaceX will have to launch the rocket seven or more times.

The whole point of reusability - multiple flights with swift turnarounds, aeroplane-style - is to shave launch costs.

The satellite will offer video and communications coverage over Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, as well as in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The satellite will eventually travel to a path 22,000 miles above Earth, where it will provide telecommunications coverage for Bangladesh and surrounding areas.

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