SpaceX launches most powerful Falcon 9 yet


Launch had originally been scheduled for the day before, but SpaceX's flight control computer triggered an abort sequence with less than a minute left in Thursday's countdown.

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.

SpaceX will try again Friday at 4:14 p.m. ET.

SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 rocket made its debut Friday afternoon and the rocket's first-stage stuck the landing after a previous launch attempt ended in a scrub.

The latest version of the Falcon 9 will also be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and to hoist national security satellites into space, meaning input from NASA and the USA military factored heavily into its design and development.

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

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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The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission is the first to utilize Falcon 9 Block 5, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

"The key to Block 5 is, it's created to do 10 or more flights with no refurbishment between each flight", he told reporters. He has said that his goal is to launch the same booster twice within 24 hours.

The Block 5 sports numerous upgrades created to make the rocket easier to reuse. That rocket and the heavy-lift Falcon Heavy will eventually be replaced by SpaceX's next-generation BFR rocket and spaceship system, which will be built at the Port of Los Angeles.

Besides missions to the space station, the new rocket will be used to launch U.S. Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value, military and national security payloads.

There will be additional "minor refinements" in Block 5, Musk said.

Reusing rockets is key to Musk's grand strategy of lowering the cost of access to space and eventually making it possible to send thousands of settlers to Mars, thus turning humanity into a multiplanetary species.