SpaceX launches updated Falcon 9 carrying Bangladesh's BangaBandhu satellite

Gwen Vasquez
May 12, 2018

He said the marginal cost of a orbital rocket launch could eventually fall to a slim fraction of that figure, but he cautioned that SpaceX still had to cover fixed costs.

Since then, the USA government has been forced to rely on Russian Federation to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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. That's more than half of the estimated overall $62 million price of the Falcon 9, according to various trade publications. It carried up the first satellite belonging to Bangladesh.

The rocket is the latest and greatest version of the company's Falcon 9 platform, and it's created to be extremely easy to refurbish and reuse.

This newest booster landed on an ocean platform following liftoff as planned. The new version of the rocket is outfitted with upgrades created to make it more durable so it can be reused as many as 10 times, dramatically cutting the costs of space missions.

"Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm that it does not need to be taken apart", Musk said. Thanks to the changes, the Block 5 shouldn't require as much time or effort to be made flight-ready again once it lands.

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Falcon 9 Block 5 rolling onto launch pad as seen in Instagram post by Elon Musk. SpaceX officials said the rocket's flight computer received an abort signal from its ground system, which turned out to be an "artifact" of an earlier test sequence that had not been properly reset. SpaceX plans to succeed the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy with the BFR, and is targeting a cargo mission to Mars with the larger rocket in 2022. Friday's second attempt by SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, appeared to have gone off without a hitch.

But the primary goal of the mission is to get Bangabandhu-1 into orbit.

"I'm certain we can achieve reusability of the upper stage, the question is simply what the mass penalty is", he said.

Over the course of this year, SpaceX will gradually add thermal protection to the upper stage to optimize the stage for the return journey to Earth, Musk said. "And then as our launch rate increases, we can further optimize the per-launch costs".

Musk said there'll be no Block 6.

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