SpaceX debuting Block 5 first stage

Rosemary Collier
May 11, 2018

A backup launch window opens on Friday, May 11 at 4:14 p.m. EDT, and closes at 6:21 p.m. EDT.

It will be just another routine launch, but should serve as a proving ground for the Block 5, which Musk has referred to as the "finished version" of its reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

The new Block 5 rocket is created to be sturdier, so that it can be flown up to 10 times with minimal mechanical refurbishment - a big leap forward in efficiency and cost reduction. "Falcon 9 Block 5 - the final version in the series - is the one that has the most performance and is designed for easy reuse".

Space.com reports that, while SpaceX has landed and a re-launched a number of Falcon 9 first stages, none has been launched more than twice.

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The so-called Falcon 9 Block 5 is created to meet NASA's requirements for human spaceflight, and SpaceX plans to reuse it as many as 10 times.

"Targeting Falcon 9 Block 5 launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 on May 10 from Pad 39A in Florida", the company wrote on its official Twitter account, following a successful static fire test on May 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. It will ultimately replace all other SpaceX rockets, as it will be relatively low-cost to launch and reuse - at least in theory.

Reusing the rockets is a major cost-saving step for space travel. Weather conditions are forecast to be 80 percent go.

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The first crew-carrying flights using this system could come as early as this year, SpaceX representatives have said.

Launch window to start at 4:12 p.m.

It's time for SpaceX to test out the new rocket it hopes will eventually carry astronauts into space. The satellite will be transferred into a geostationary orbit approximately 33 minutes after launch, according to SpaceX.

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