SpaceX set to launch its first "block 5" Falcon 9


The next attempt is scheduled to take place on Friday, May 11, at 4:14 PM EST.

This mission, the first for Falcon 9 Block 5, will launch Bangladesh's first communications satellite Bangabandhu-1 into orbit. During a conference call Thursday before the flight, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he expects to see "Same day re-flight of the same rocket", as early as next year.

Its recoverable main-stage booster is created to be reused at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between flights, allowing more frequent launches at lower cost - a key to the SpaceX business model. Block 5 will take that concept to a new level and make successive missions not only easier, but cheaper.

The Block-5 will also be used to launch US Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads. At the time of this update, the rescheduled time for liftoff was aimed at 5:47 PM Eastern Time (that's 21:47 GMT).

"Block 5 is designed for 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment but should be capable of additional flights with further testing and possible additional refurbishment", SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine. "The rocket has to be designed 25 percent more than the expected load that in the case of a satellite launcher". "It's a reliability upgrade that combines reliability and reusability". Once in orbit and checked out by Thales, the satellite will be operated by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

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Consequently, reusability is already saving customers large sums of money and ensuring that Falcon 9 remains the absolute cheapest vehicle for the performance, a trend Musk indicated would continue for the indefinite future as SpaceX decreases costs, expands and improves reusability, and recoups a satisfactory proportion of their investments.

Even the landing legs have been redesigned to allow engineers to retract them after touchdown.

This first Block 5 rocket, however, will go through "rigorous" testing and analysis and will not be re-flown for a couple of months, Musk said.

However, less than a minute before takeoff, SpaceX got an "abort" message and could not get things back on track within the window available to launch.