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SpaceX's 'Block 5' Falcon 9 rocket blasts off in maiden voyage carrying Bangladesh's first satellite

SpaceX's 'Block 5' Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral for its maiden voyage carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite

  • SpaceX's first Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Fri after last minute abort Thurs
  • It successfully lifted off carrying Bangladesh's first communication satellite
  • Tech mogul Elon Musk has called the Block 5 the 'final iteration' of the Falcon 9
  • It's equipped with more thrust and reusability, could one day carry astronauts

By Cheyenne Macdonald and Annie Palmer For Dailymail.com

Published: 16:26 EDT, 11 May 2018 | Updated: 20:09 EDT, 11 May 2018

SpaceX has launched its powerful Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, after aborting the maiden voyage yesterday just 58 seconds before liftoff.

The craft, carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite, the Bangabandhu 1, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida on time at 4:14pm (ET).

Block 5 Falcon 9 is said to be the 'final iteration' of the reusable rocket, with potential to handle far more launches than its predecessor, and could one day be used to carry astronauts to space. 

Scroll down for video 

SpaceX has launched its powerful Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, after aborting the maiden voyage yesterday just 58 seconds before liftoff
SpaceX has launched its powerful Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, after aborting the maiden voyage yesterday just 58 seconds before liftoff

SpaceX has launched its powerful Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, after aborting the maiden voyage yesterday just 58 seconds before liftoff

Cheers could be heard from the control room as the rocket tore through the sky in a 'beautifully clear' shot seen from all around.

Atop the reusable rocket is the Bangabandhu 1, which weighs in at a whopping 7,700lbs.

The vehicle could be seen high above Earth after launch, with its three main events happening in the usual quick succession.

After main engine cutoff, the first stage separated, followed by the fairings. 

These could be seen falling back down toward Earth, as the announcers confirmed: 'Everything is going great right now, Falcon is looking good.' 

Shaky video reception threatened to mask the landing of the first stage, which would mark SpaceX's 25th successful Falcon 9 recovery.

But, at the very last second, the video came back to life, revealing the Falcon 9 sat upon Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean.  

Cheers could be heard from the control room as the rocket tore through the sky in a 'beautifully clear' shot seen from all around
Cheers could be heard from the control room as the rocket tore through the sky in a 'beautifully clear' shot seen from all around

Cheers could be heard from the control room as the rocket tore through the sky in a 'beautifully clear' shot seen from all around

Atop the reusable rocket is the Bangabandhu 1, which weighs in at a whopping 7,700lbs
Atop the reusable rocket is the Bangabandhu 1, which weighs in at a whopping 7,700lbs

Atop the reusable rocket is the Bangabandhu 1, which weighs in at a whopping 7,700lbs

About 33 minutes after launch, the second stage successfully separated from the satellite and deposited Bangabandhu-1 to geostationary orbit. 

Today's success is expected to serve as a proving ground for the Block 5, which Elon Musk has referred to as the 'finished version' of SpaceX's Falcon 9, as it's been designed to last up to 100 flights in a single lifespan.

It's part of SpaceX's wider goal to make launching rockets similar to commercial flights, where 'they can be flown again and again,' the firm explained on the livestream.  

The rocket was initially scheduled to blast off on Thursday, but firm was forced to delay the maiden voyage after the rocket threw the abort signal 58 seconds before launch.

Announcers said at the time that the Block 5 rocket and its payload 'are in good health' but that it would use the next 24 hours to check what 'threw the abort today'. 

The vehicle could be seen high above Earth, with its three main events happening in the usual quick succession. After main engine cutoff, the first stage separated followed by the fairings, and announcers confirmed: 'Everything is going great right now, Falcon is looking good'
The vehicle could be seen high above Earth, with its three main events happening in the usual quick succession. After main engine cutoff, the first stage separated followed by the fairings, and announcers confirmed: 'Everything is going great right now, Falcon is looking good'

The vehicle could be seen high above Earth, with its three main events happening in the usual quick succession. After main engine cutoff, the first stage separated followed by the fairings, and announcers confirmed: 'Everything is going great right now, Falcon is looking good'

Shaky video reception threatened to mask the landing of the first stage, which would mark SpaceX's 25th successful Falcon 9 recovery. But, at the very last second, the video came back to life, revealing the Falcon 9 sat upon Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean
Shaky video reception threatened to mask the landing of the first stage, which would mark SpaceX's 25th successful Falcon 9 recovery. But, at the very last second, the video came back to life, revealing the Falcon 9 sat upon Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean

Shaky video reception threatened to mask the landing of the first stage, which would mark SpaceX's 25th successful Falcon 9 recovery. But, at the very last second, the video came back to life, revealing the Falcon 9 sat upon Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean

About 33 minutes after launch, the second stage successfully separated from the satellite and deposited Bangabandhu-1 to geostationary orbit
About 33 minutes after launch, the second stage successfully separated from the satellite and deposited Bangabandhu-1 to geostationary orbit

About 33 minutes after launch, the second stage successfully separated from the satellite and deposited Bangabandhu-1 to geostationary orbit

'We're much happier to take those aborts beforehand than continue when there's any risks,' the announcer explained.  

The mission is expected to serve as a proving ground for the Block 5, which Elon Musk has referred to as the 'finished version' of SpaceX's Falcon 9, as it's been designed to last up to 100 flights in a single lifespan. 

The mission also marks the inaugural launch of Bangladesh's first-ever communications satellite. 

Bangabandhu 1 will provide broadcasting and telecommunication services to rural areas, as well as deliver direct-to-home television programming across Bangladesh. 

The mission is an important step toward SpaceX's wider plan of conducting manned missions with rockets that can be reused up to 100 times in a single lifespan.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could be seen celebrating in the control room after the successful launch
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could be seen celebrating in the control room after the successful launch

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could be seen celebrating in the control room after the successful launch

The craft, carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite, the Bangabandhu 1, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida on time at 4:14p.m. (ET) following the previous day¿s delays
The craft, carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite, the Bangabandhu 1, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida on time at 4:14p.m. (ET) following the previous day¿s delays

The craft, carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite, the Bangabandhu 1, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida on time at 4:14p.m. (ET) following the previous day’s delays

WHAT MAKES THE BLOCK 5 ROCKET DIFFERENT FROM EARLIER VERSIONS OF FALCON 9?

Unlike previous Falcon 9 iterations, the Block 5 is made to last for a long time -- and for good reason, because if all goes well, it could be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX launched the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on May 11
SpaceX launched the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on May 11

SpaceX launched the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on May 11

The plan is to launch the first stage 10 times without needing refurbishment, just some minimal inspection before returning the rocket to the launchpad. 

After it completes 10 flights, the Block 5 will be inspected and repaired, then used in 10 more flights. 

With any luck, the rocket can be reused up to 100 times.

SpaceX says the rocket has numerous upgrades from its predecessor, the Block 4.

It has stronger landing legs, better landing control and is completely reusable.

The rocket looks pretty similar to previous Falcon 9 iterations, aside from a new interstage ring, raceway cover and landing legs -- all of which are painted black.

The black paint is part of the rocket's new thermal protection system that makes it highly flame resistant and rapidly reusable.

There are also some noteworthy changes to the rocket's nine Merlin engines.

They now have a thrust of 190,000 lbf at sea level vs. the prior thrust amount of 176,000 lbf. 

The rocket was supposed to launch on May 10, but threw a last minute abort signal at around T-1. It successfully took off Friday afternoon instead 
The rocket was supposed to launch on May 10, but threw a last minute abort signal at around T-1. It successfully took off Friday afternoon instead 

The rocket was supposed to launch on May 10, but threw a last minute abort signal at around T-1. It successfully took off Friday afternoon instead 

Additionally, the rocket's metal support structure, called the Octaweb, is now bolted to the body instead of welded, to allow for greater reliability and it 'shortens the lead time in manufacturing,' the company noted. 

It's been fitted with a new second stage anti-vortex device to prevent fluids from creating a whirlpool inside the rocket.

SpaceX is also using a pair of titanium grid fins, rather than aluminum, which allow for a more controlled entry.

SpaceX, which conducted a successful static test fire of the Block 5 earlier this month, said the rocket has numerous upgrades from its predecessor, the Block 4. 

The plan is to launch the first stage 10 times without needing refurbishment, just some minimal inspection before returning the rocket to the launchpad. 

After it completes 10 flights, the Block 5 will be inspected and repaired, then used in 10 more flights. 

With any luck, the rocket can be reused up to 100 times.

However, Andy Lambert, vice president of production for SpaceX, pointed out in a Reddit post that an upwards of 10 times is probably more achievable for now. 

'Block 5 is being qualified for 10+ flights, but we'll continue to expand for more,' Lambert said. 

The rocket looks pretty similar to previous Falcon 9 iterations, aside from a new interstage ring, raceway cover and landing legs -- all of which are painted black (pictured)
The rocket looks pretty similar to previous Falcon 9 iterations, aside from a new interstage ring, raceway cover and landing legs -- all of which are painted black (pictured)

The rocket looks pretty similar to previous Falcon 9 iterations, aside from a new interstage ring, raceway cover and landing legs -- all of which are painted black (pictured)

By comparison, SpaceX's Block 3 and Block 4 rockets have only been able to fly a second time after undergoing refurbishment. 

Meanwhile, another important launch tool received a noticeable face lift. 

SpaceX's recovery boat, called 'Mr Steven', was installed with a new net to help it better retrieve payload fairings as they return to earth. 

The contraption has now been outfitted with a bright yellow net, which Musk has cheekily likened to as being a 'giant catcher's mitt', that appears to be made of stronger material than its predecessor, according to Teslarati, which first spotted the change.  

Rigged to the net are massive metal claws to help retrieve parts from Falcon 9 rockets, some of which can weigh up to 4000kg.  

SpaceX's recovery boat, 'Mr Steven', was installed with a new net (top) to help it better retrieve payload fairings as they return to earth. It's believed to be stronger than the old net (bottom)
SpaceX's recovery boat, 'Mr Steven', was installed with a new net (top) to help it better retrieve payload fairings as they return to earth. It's believed to be stronger than the old net (bottom)

SpaceX's recovery boat, 'Mr Steven', was installed with a new net (top) to help it better retrieve payload fairings as they return to earth. It's believed to be stronger than the old net (bottom)

SpaceX uses a recovery boat, called 'Mr. Steven', that's outfitted with massive metal claws that are rigged to a net, as a means of gently recovering Falcon 9 payload fairings
SpaceX uses a recovery boat, called 'Mr. Steven', that's outfitted with massive metal claws that are rigged to a net, as a means of gently recovering Falcon 9 payload fairings

SpaceX uses a recovery boat, called 'Mr. Steven', that's outfitted with massive metal claws that are rigged to a net, as a means of gently recovering Falcon 9 payload fairings

WHY DOES SPACEX RE-USE ROCKETS AND OTHER PARTS?

SpaceX tries to re-use rockets, payload fairings, boosters and other parts to try to cut down on the cost of each rocket mission.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules.

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

In an incredible accomplishment, the Falcon Heavy's side boosters landed smoothly back down to Earth on two separate launchpads about 8 minutes in
In an incredible accomplishment, the Falcon Heavy's side boosters landed smoothly back down to Earth on two separate launchpads about 8 minutes in
'The Falcons have landed' the announcers said, as people cheered and whooped wildly in the background
'The Falcons have landed' the announcers said, as people cheered and whooped wildly in the background

In an incredible accomplishment, the Falcon Heavy's reused side boosters landed smoothly back down to Earth on two separate launchpads about 8 minutes in.

SpaceX is currently testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets. 

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload.

SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017.

During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.

The ultimate goal of the latest Falcon 9 iteration is to cut down on the cost of rocket launches without having to build a new rocket for each mission.

The SpaceX boss has said that cutting down on labor costs could also reduce the cost of each rocket, perhaps by as much as 30%. 

If they cut down on the cost of each rocket, that could enable SpaceX to complete launch missions more often. 

And the savings could be applied to SpaceX's development of the BFR, or 'Big F***ing Rocket', according to the Verge. 

SpaceX just received approval to build the BFR at the Port of Los Angeles, further setting in motion Musk’s plan of making humans a ‘multi-planetary’ species, and one day developing a colony on Mars. 

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