Although a day later than initially planned, SpaceX’s latest upgraded ‘Block 5’ Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Friday afternoon (May 11th) sending Bangladesh’s first satellite into orbit.
Bangabandhu-1, named after the founding father of Bangladesh, was placed into its geostationary transfer orbit, and then barely 10 minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage flawlessly landed onto its floating barge ‘Of Course I Still Love You’.
Liftoff took place at 4:14 p.m. EDT (20:12 GMT) at the opening of its a 127-minute launch window from Launch Complex 39A. The satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space. The craft will be positioned at 119 degrees East, where it will held supply DTH signals to the country’s 160 million people.
The much-improved rocket is designed for high-frequency multiple reuse, perhaps for as many as 100 missions with minimal engineering refurbishment, but also for extremely rapid return to the launch pad after use.
SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said launching the same rocket twice within 24 hours will be “crazy hard”, but hopes to pull off the task next year.
Musk and his team has constantly striven to make the cost of getting cargo, whether satellites or eventually humans, into space as inexpensive – and profitable for SpaceX – as possible.
This version of the Falcon 9 has greater lift, strengthened landing legs, and improved thermal insulation as well as dozens of minor, but important, tweaks in the engine bay including bolts instead of welds.
“The key to Block 5 is that it’s designed to do ten or more flights with no refurbishment between each flight—or at least not scheduled refurbishment between each flight,” said Musk during a media conference call before the launch. “The only thing that needs to change is you reload propellant and fly again.”
SpaceX says it will launch these versions about 30 times while his BFR super-rocket is being built and flight-tested.